One of my interests is the invention or discovery of new technology. Here are recent reports about two of those: (1) Spray-on batteries, which could be used in conjunction with (2) Paint-on solar cells.
Scientists develop spray-on batteries
“The researchers tested the device using nine bathroom tiles coated with the paint and connected to each other. When they were charged, the batteries powered a set of light-emitting diodes for six hours, providing a steady 2.4 volts.”
LONDON, June 28, 2012 (Reuters) — Scientists in the United States have developed a paint that can store and deliver electrical power just like a battery.
Traditional lithium-ion batteries power most portable electronics. They are already pretty compact but limited to rectangular or cylindrical blocks.
Researchers at Rice University in Houston, Texas, have come up with a technique to break down each element of the traditional battery and incorporate it into a liquid that can be spray-painted in layers on virtually any surface.
“This means traditional packaging for batteries has given way to a much more flexible approach that allows all kinds of new design and integration possibilities for storage devices,” said Pulickel Ajayan, who leads the team on the project.
The rechargeable battery is made from spray-painted layers, with each representing the components of a traditional battery: two current collectors, a cathode, an anode and a polymer separator in the middle.
The paint layers were airbrushed onto ceramics, glass and stainless steel, and on diverse shapes such as the curved surface of a ceramic mug, to test how well they bond.
One limitation of the technology is in the use of difficult-to-handle liquid electrolytes and the need for a dry and oxygen-free environment when making the new device.
The researchers are looking for components that would allow construction in the open air for a more efficient production process and greater commercial viability.
Neelam Singh, who worked on the project, believes the technology could be integrated with solar cells to give any surface a stand-alone energy capture and storage capability.
The researchers tested the device using nine bathroom tiles coated with the paint and connected to each other. When they were charged, the batteries powered a set of light-emitting diodes for six hours, providing a steady 2.4 volts. The results of the study were published on Thursday in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.
For a video presentation and other information, also see:
Paint-On Solar Cells Developed
A team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame have made a major advance toward this vision by creating an inexpensive “solar paint” that uses semiconducting nanoparticles to produce energy.
“We want to do something transformative, to move beyond current silicon-based solar technology,” says Prashant Kamat, John A. Zahm Professor of Science in Chemistry and Biochemistry and an investigator in Notre Dame’s Center for Nano Science and Technology (NDnano), who leads the research.
“By incorporating power-producing nanoparticles, called quantum dots, into a spreadable compound, we’ve made a one-coat solar paint that can be applied to any conductive surface without special equipment.”
The team’s search for the new material, described in the journal ACS Nano, centered on nano-sized particles of titanium dioxide, which were coated with either cadmium sulfide or cadmium selenide. The particles were then suspended in a water-alcohol mixture to create a paste.
When the paste was brushed onto a transparent conducting material and exposed to light, it created electricity.
“The best light-to-energy conversion efficiency we’ve reached so far is 1 percent, which is well behind the usual 10 to 15 percent efficiency of commercial silicon solar cells,” explains Kamat.
“But this paint can be made cheaply and in large quantities. If we can improve the efficiency somewhat, we may be able to make a real difference in meeting energy needs in the future.”
“That’s why we’ve christened the new paint, Sun-Believable,” he adds. Kamat and his team also plan to study ways to improve the stability of the new material.
NDnano is one of the leading nanotechnology centers in the world. Its mission is to study and manipulate the properties of materials and devices, as well as their interfaces with living systems, at the nano-scale.
This research was funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences.