Paper Batteries: Paper Thin Power

Sheikh Rouf

Abstract: Traditionally, electronics have been designed around their batteries. In recent years, however, a new battery, known as
the paper battery, has been developed that can easily conform to the size and shape of various electronics. A paper battery can
function both as a high-energy battery and super capacitor , combining two discrete components that are separate in traditional
electronics . This combination allows the battery to provide both long-term steady power production as well as bursts of energy.The
paper battery is becoming increasingly significant as technology tends towards thinner and more paper-like devices. The paper
battery is a promising innovation whose efficient use of space will open up thousands of possibilities for electronic and mechanical

Index Terms–– Carbon nanotubes, Microelectronics, Nanotechnology, Paper battery, Paper electronics

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embedded in a separator. The separator prevents the anode
1. Paper Batteries: Paving the Way for and cathode from touching, but still allows electrons to be
transferred between the two [4]. Charge collectors made of
Thinner Electronics metal sheets, meshes, or films provide charge transport to the
battery’s terminals, thus allowing the electrical energy to be
Electronic devices have evolved from large desktop transported to whatever device is attached to the battery [2].
computers to compact pocket-sized smart phones capable of Electrochemical charge-transfer reactions occur in the
running numerous applications; as technology slims down, electrodes, converting chemical energy into electric energy
engineers must find a way to pack more power into smaller that can be used. The amount of energy created depends on
spaces. One innovative solution is the paper battery. The the type and amount of materials used [4].Lastly, all of these
recent development of the paper battery utilizes carbon components are contained inside a metal or plastic case [5].
nanotubes as electrodes and an integrated design of layers of
electrolytes to create a thin and flexible battery [1]. The paper
battery is extremely significant as it could open up 4. The Mechanics of Paper Batteries
possibilities for smart labels, medical devices, and electronic
displays in advertising [2, 3, 4]. The paper battery Like traditional batteries, paper batteries also consist of two
distinguishes itself from other batteries in its use of carbon electrodes, an electrolyte, a separator, and charge collectors.
nanotubes, which allow for electrical efficiency and effective However, unlike traditional batteries, paper batteries have one
use of space, the details of which will be discussed in the electrode made of conductive carbon nano tubes, the separator
following sections. is made from plant cellulose (the main ingredient in paper),
and the second electrode is made by coating the opposite side
of the paper separator with lithium oxide. To provide the
2. Nanotechnology Allows for Innovative electrolyte, the paper is saturated with an ionic liquid – that is,
Design: A Technical Discussion an organic salt that is liquid at room temperature. Since the
ionic liquid does not contain water, the batteries do not contain
In order to understand the novelty of the paper battery, it is anything that will freeze or evaporate, enabling them to
important to first look at the design of traditional batteries. withstand extreme temperatures, ranging from -78°C to
Then, through comparison, it will be possible to see the 177°C [1]. Also, since the battery is dry, it does not need a
advantages that the slight changes from battery to paper sealed case, as do traditional batteries [5]. It is also possible to
battery bring. make a super capacitor from the carbon electrode and paper
separator by folding it in half so that the paper is in the middle
3. Back to the Basics: A Review of the and both the top and bottom electrodes are carbon. One such
postage-stamp-sized super capacitor has a voltage of almost
Traditional Battery 2.5 volts, which is comparable to other standard super
capacitors that are much larger[1].
Traditionally, batteries are made up of a negative electrode,
called an anode, and a positive electrode, called a cathode.
These electrodes take up the majority of the space in the 5. The Secret Ingredient: Paper
battery. They are separated by an electrolyte, which in
traditional batteries is usually a liquid solution. This is

found that using a chemical vapor deposition technique. zinc from the anode combines with resistance of the electrolyte in the pores of the separator. of the separator. The ratio τ/f indicates how easily the electrolyte can metal in the charge collectors is replaced by random networks go through the separator. Thus. Variations on Structure research must be done before anyone can truly know its full potential [6]. RSL. a paper separator can also function as the The electrolyte is comprised of an aqueous solution of mechanical support for the battery. the ratio between the pore volume and the total volume of the which provides the conductance to the charge collector. like the silicon. This structure could lead to a device Stanford found that commercial paper has a ratio of consisting of only one layer per electrode. making it more useful as a battery and. there is an exchange of electrons. suitable as a separator [3]. as depicted in approximately 9. it will for the traditional lithium metal oxide at the cathode. In this battery. carbon black must be added materials are needed to provide the support [3]. because of the intrinsic and design of the paper battery. zinc is used found no degradation after 300 cycles of recharging. The slight changes proposed to the structure of the paper theoretically. One possibility that he is currently The original design of carbon-based supercapacitors and looking at as a substitute is lithium sulfide. while standard separators have a ratio of Figure 1 below. Recently. First. and thus better conductivity. This clearly indicates that paper. which material and nanotubes. but it also the types of materials used. making it much more [2]. To make . silicon nanowires can be synthesized and used in place of the 7. Researchers at Stanford University battery is the zinc carbon battery. τ is the ratio between the path An alternative battery design proposes the use of carbon length of the ions and the thickness of the electrode. A is the area of the separator perpendicular to the axis of the electrode. As this occurs. thus. batteries with silicon nanowire anodes could battery allow for different manufacturing processes as well. for the anode and manganese dioxide is used for the cathode. there also exist variations on porous structure of paper. making the battery ammonium chloride and zinc chloride. it not only serves well as a separator with lower impedance than commercial separators. assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford University. and it would both replace the cathode is much cheaper than the standard separator. Furthermore. The electrode.Cui is also conducting research to find a replacement effective. has a much better conductor and provide conduction paths for current collection conductivity at the same thickness. but further battery devices includes metal charge collectors. The be necessary to consider which manufacturing process will be substitute would.1. This movement of electrons ? ? from the anode to the cathode is what creates the electrical where ρs is the resistivity of the electrolyte. store ten times as much energy as traditional graphite anode However. zinc is oxidized (loses ? ? electrons) at the anode and manganese dioxide is reduced RSL = ?? (gains electrons) at the cathode. The researchers at replaced by nanotubes.8. 6. Another option could be Manufacturing Processes coating the carbon fibers with the silicon. Yi Cui. yet another change to the structure of the paper Figure 1: Proposed single-layer battery structure [2] battery has been proposed. and the carbon black used for the cathode is also resistivity. In other words. This results in the following reaction: The advantages of using a paper separator are also clear when Zn + 2MnO2 + 2NH4Cl  Zn(NH3)2Cl2 + 2MnOOH (2) [2] considering its low resistivity in the electrolyte. power of the battery. Printing Batteries: A Review of carbon nanotubes at the anode. as a cathode conductor. as the current is drained. and f is nanotubes in the charge collectors and the cathode conductor. This layer would contain a mixture of active approximately 28. The value of RSL is from the electrolyte to form diammine dichlorozinc and given by the following expression: manganite. not all processes are equally efficient or cost batteries. So a smaller ratio indicates less of nanotubes. Since manganese cheaper and easier to manufacture since no additional dioxide is not a good conductor. in commercializing the paper battery. Cui found that. manganese dioxide from the cathode and ammonium chloride for varying thicknesses of the separator. Researchers at Stanford University built a paper battery and found the In this reaction. L is the thickness energy that can be used [2]. improve the efficiency and the most effective. more marketable. One particular type of paper has good cyclability.The use of a paper separator has several key advantages over While the materials described above cover the basic structure traditional mediums used.

printing allows the mechanical and storage properties of the However. This ink. but they can also be easily fit The design shown in Figure 1 replaces the metal charge to the specific design needs of their application. deposition techniques consist of use of a printing method or roll-to-roll fabrication.With the implementation of a printing method. passports and airline baggage management. these fabrication processes are not the fabrication of the batteries and increase greatly the compatible with printing. making as is done in most printing. stacking sheets of paper batteries could increase the overall power and Besides tracking devices. Batteries Required: Applications of the Paper Battery The paper battery has many applications ranging from having a more powerful and light weight battery. large role in media and advertising. as will be explained later. Additionally.1 Radio Frequency Identification Device battery “has enough power to light a small light emitting diode” [1]. RFID electronics also appear . in a grocery store using cereal boxes [3. paper batteries could be used in One important application of the paper battery is its use in greeting cards to power electronic displays or lights embedded powering radio frequency identification devices or RFID in the card. its biocompatibility allows for potential use in 8. vacuum and metal thin film deposition methods vacuum and metal thin film deposition and allowing for the are used. shape or size required [9]. the sheets can be ‘cut to fit’ to accommodate any dehydrated in the oven [8]. At Paper Battery Co. with the help of the paper battery to power these RFID tags and labels. researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute suggested that the paper 8. However. animal tracking. technology in store now. attracting more attention.3 Medical Devices could appear in the near future. For instance. paper batteries could Other potential applications include using paper batteries to allow companies to place RFID tags and smart labels on power electronic displays on packaging for items such as almost all products. its flexibility and paper thin a longer lasting tag and better data storage [11]. Although many supermarkets do not have this advertising. RFID tags have been used to keep track of would play a song or recording upon opening of the card. all these potential uses could benefit by Figure 2: Roll to roll printing [10] 8. the metal. The lightweight and compactness of a these RFID tags. paper batteries could also play a lead to potential applications in larger electronics.2 Media and Advertising medical products and artificial organs. This method is illustrated below in Figure 2. This would showering the substrate – in this case. the use of metal charge collectors requires the use of less efficient One company in particular has already started printing paper methods to make the devices. Thus. Then the paper is heated in an oven to get rid of the water. .these devices. rather Another method currently being used to produce paper than building the battery around a starting web or paper sheet batteries takes carbon nanotubes suspended in water. 12]. Essentially. batteries. and thus providing better [11]. they could also power any sort of audio device that [2. since time must be spent waiting for the paper to be Furthermore. the shopping cart could automatically paper battery would allow the device to be easily fit into the process which items are placed in the cart. the battery is print-formed from an ink-like substance. and dips the paper separator into the particles. However. So not only can the batteries be manufactured very efficiently. This metal newspapers [2]. thus eliminating the need for in road toll collection. For instance. coating expands molecule by molecule until a thin film is it would be possible to cut down tremendously on the cost of formed [7]. the paper separator – allow paper batteries to be produced in much the same way as with atoms or molecules – in this case. collectors with random networks of nanotubes and consists of only one layer per electrode. Therefore. which would be a much more efficiency and speed of the process. this method is still not as efficient as a printing sheet to be fit to the needs of the desired application. In the past. However. charge the cardboard design of a cereal box and display videos and play customer’s credit card and keep track of the store’s inventories music.3]. sheets of paper batteries are printed using roll to roll printing methods. cattle and livestock [11]. method. allowing for greeting cards to medical devices. efficient process. Moreover. thickness allow it to be utilized in a wide array of products. this sort of technology 8.

imaging the nanoparticle the curved shape of a vehicle [13]. even or use in Before encouraging the widespread use of a new technology. Moreover. So the paper battery would be an optimal solution one must always consider the possible ethical concerns for powering devices that work inside the body such as surrounding that technology. when the lungs of mice were directly exposed to carbon nanotubes. as the size of these particles and storage.4 Large Scale Electronics important cell structures. Although direct exposure Although the compactness of the paper battery is one of its with nanoparticles or fibers is unlikely in many of these major benefits. the size and panels and [2. the mice developed fibrosis in their lungs. any possible damage devices such as cars. Furthermore. There exist many potential tissue. the Regarding the Use of Nanotechnology paper battery’s “high paper contentand lack of toxic chemicals” make it safer than other batteries. allowing for better transport across cell barriers and increased ability to react with 8. or urine as the electrolyte [1. it has many potential applications in larger it is important to consider. decrease the weight of the battery by up to twenty percent. it would be an efficient way to macrophages. By stacking nanotubes. These free inexpensively help solar and wind farms store what energy radicals are molecules that can react with chemicals in the they generate” [14]. A study presented at the American Chemical large sheetsof paper batterieson topof each other. regarding paper batteries is the potential adverse health effects sweat. Another application is certain nanoparticles have many sharp points. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have proposed that the However. Results of Nanotoxicological Research [14]. Additionally. since a reduction in weight could potentially increase efficiency 10. scientists have possibilities include wearable electronics and flexible solar found high rates of deposition of ultrafine particles in the . as early 8. since this sort of overgrowth can block fluids from applications of the paper battery that have not yet been fully bringing nutrients to cells. the The paper battery has numerous applications. A study using live mice showed or wind power. By integrating the paper battery adverse health effects create occupational hazards for those into the design of a traditional battery. and because it daily life. as it will be stored away in part of the electronic. More importantly. In fact. to clear foreign particles from monitor the temperature of blood throughout transportation the body [16]. researchers in tissue has been a challenge in nanotoxicologic studies. which will be explained “paper batteries’ light weight could make them ideal for use shortly. These sharp points make it difficult for lightweight and flexible. any used in a typical car battery. according to Yi Cui of Stanford the formation of free radicals. aircraft. as evidenced by larger machines. Moreover. especially in the lungs [18]. thus wall carbon nanotubes to in vitro keratinocytes and bronchial making the paper battery capable of providing energy for epithelial cells “resulted in oxidative stress.With such a wide range of applications flexibility of the paper battery also make it an advantageous from greeting cards to medical devices to cars. it would be society national Meeting in 2004 showed that exposing single possible to increase the voltage and increase the power. and depletion of cell antioxidants” [18]. devices. which work shapes and its ability endure numerous recharge cycles would against free radicals. it is possible to manufacturing the paper batteries. such as microtubules and DNA [17]. this pile of paper batteries “could also products. nanoparticles can have potential harmful health effects. This would be an ideal of carbon nanotubes on the human body and the environment. thus eliminating the need to check one’s These studies performed with rodents are consistent with balance online or go to a kiosk [12]. body [13]. the surface area increases. the paper battery can even use blood. Since they are asbestos. it shows that the nanotubes can explored. in fact. 15]. In other words. For instance. is very light. the paper battery is not limited to small applications. such applications include smarts cards where debit have harmful. laptops and wind farms [14]. it will not weigh down the devices. accumulation of peroxidative University. 4]. the flexibility of the paper body and induce cellular damage. for instance. it becomes power source for medical devices. senior researcher at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Because to the electronic that would perhaps break the case and expose the paper battery has the ability to be recharged. this would be especially relevant for electric and hybrid cars. power source for artificial organs where bodily fluids are Nanotoxicology studies have shown that the surfaces of abundant and can recharge the device.In addition to packaging and greeting cards. For instance. much like temperature monitors on blood bags [11]. According to Victor Pushparaj. or immune cells. One of the major ethical issues artificial organs. It has also been suggested that the paper battery could power car doors since the paper battery can be formed to fit Because of the size of nanoparticles. Others include research using human subjects. As a result. Nanotoxicology: Ethical Concerns battery is biocompatible.5 Endless Possibilities as one day following exposure [17]. a few of which mice showed significantly increased formation of connective are detailed previously. the paper 9. decreases. making it easier for the patient to hold inside them. the paper evident that paper battery will have an extensive impact on battery can be fit to the shape of a pacemaker. and even boats” [13]. it could be the nanoparticles to air and the user. many of the studies. since the exposure battery could allow it to be used in solar panels of varying displayed decreased levels of antioxidants. For instance. it is clear that the carbon nanotubes had make it an ideal device to capture the energy from solar power a negative effect on cells. after exposure to single walled carbon nanotubes. cards which could electronically display the amount of money left on the card. use cellular responses to assess the effects of carbon in automobiles. similar adverse effects.

a protein involved with cell death [17]. we suggest that researchers and engineers address addition. So as Baruch nanoparticles have been found to have these negative effects Levanon. In spite of these risk factors associated with nanotechnology. Since paper products such as sunscreen and various medical diagnostic batteries are dry they require no casing while traditional tests where nanoparticles are directly exposed to the body and batteries must be encased and sealed in metal or plastic. the carbon nanotubes could potentially end up According to chemical and biological engineering professor in the environment. In addition. it becomes traditional batteries. nanomaterials – such as the carbon nanotubes in paper we still support the production and development of paper batteries – are better conductors than traditional materials batteries. the paper substrate and the electrolytes used in paper these health concerns rather than eliminating the paper battery batteries are environmentally safe and nontoxic. Also. rather to consider is whether mass production of nanotechnology than having to design the product around set amounts of will result in nanotubes appearing in the environment. the battery would be encased and in many inefficient conductors than traditional batteries lose. Also. there would be little human contact with these devices. For instance. the more raises environmental concerns. Along the same lines. could cause the coatings to deteriorate. such as batteries. collagen production and increased expression of matrix Keeping ethical concerns in mind. revolutionize both electronics and everyday shopping. the paper repair proteins in fish exposed to nanoparticles [17]. tires. commercializing paper batteries. as a potential power source. markers of coagulation and systemic inflammation and Once researchers can define safety proceduresfor carbon pulmonary diffusion capacity” [18]. an effort to study “effects on the cardiovascular system. Since nanotechnology has appeared in a variety of products besides the paper battery. it would be possible to demonstrate that it is not only possible for nanoparticles to better protect manufacturing workers from carbon nanotube become lodged in the linings of the lung and trachea but also exposure and then commercialize the paper battery. This is clear when one the exposure of nanoparticles to largemouth bass fish resulted considers the dependency of electronics today on their in lipid damage in the brain. chief executive of Power Paper. The paper Another advantage that paper batteries have over traditional battery is relatively safe compared to other nanotechnology batteries is the materials they are made up of. The Importance of Being Paper 11. Changing the Way We Design Electronics 10. the use of nanotechnology also developed the paper battery. This opens doors for thus our food and water supply. Linhardt at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. electronics will be able demonstrated an up regulation of immune system and tissue to take on any shape or form. Additionally. These results nanotubes used in paper batteries. wind farms. having a case eliminates a step in the manufacturing process and cuts down on the cost of manufacturing the battery. the environmental factors. so you adjust the battery to the needs of the product. With the paper battery. causing damage to able to mold the battery to any shape that corresponds to the the soil and plants [17]. “Being used temperature monitors are disposed. it is no longer have to be held back by the constraints of their possible that upon disposal. continue using nanotechnology when products like the battery not vice versa” [12]. even if the new electronics to take on any shape or form imaginable. reminded of the significance of the paper battery in today’s Any up regulation or down regulation of biomarkers such as society. including blood nanotoxicology would be a valuable use of time and money. How Nanotoxicology Affects the Paper In addition to expanding the world of electronics. is it ethical to energy. said. the company that on animals in the environment. With more flexible batteries. In Therefore. paper batteries will lose less electricity due to studies. but it also has the potential to clear that nanoparticles can have adverse health effects. boats.1 Environmental Effects One of the most remarkable aspects of the paper battery is its ability to be rolled and folded without any loss of efficiency. So if a product requires more or less could potentially harm the wildlife? Another important aspect energy. exposing the perhaps harmful material [17]. which contain harmful manmade nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes prior to acids [5]. other studies have batteries. As Yi Cui of Stanford University points out. Because battery’s capacity is proportional to its area.respiratory tract of human subjects in addition to showing such as cosmetics. and filters. “The more area. Therefore. it is unlikely that such direct because they are able to move electricity more efficiently[19]. Not only does it have numerous advantages over these can indicate stresses on the cell. applications. Scientists should take into paper batteries would have less of an impact on the account any health effects by further testing the toxicity of environment than traditional batteries. such as solar panels. studies performed with in vitro human lung 12. for nanoparticles to induce significant cellular stress. An Investment for the Future fibroblasts also increased cell proliferation. Therefore. and concentrated exposure will occur as it modeled in these In other words. 13. it is important to be metalloproteinase-9. the paper Battery battery has several important advantages over traditional batteries. as paper batteries from smart cards and Robert J. . Not where absorption of nanomaterials is more likely. Ecological studies have shown that space available is a real advantage” [1]. the air and ultraviolet radiation. and power that a given battery can supply. onecan simply change the size of the battery. They nanoparticles are manufactured to be biocompatible. Furthermore.

the Article].aip. Therefore. the cost is only about two cents per square =None&sort=DA- centimeter. [Online Article]. is neither mechanical advantage in that the battery can be fit to the rechargeable nor flexible. around $200 per gram. and the use of smart cards would give any research into the types of materials best suited for paper shopper the ability to check their balance at any time. a battery as thin as a paper battery is the new method of purchase with the use of RFID tags would almost necessary. Flexible Power As an example of the advantages of a paper battery over more Because the paper battery offers an integrated design of the traditional batteries. the paper battery is a significant technology because traditional batteries is their size. Enfucell’s for many applications such as smart cards and temperature battery. Rigby. paper-thin dimensions. ( common concern is that paper batteries would be too . Available: http://www. Y.acs. Stephen. [Online Article].1021/nn101 14. Flexible Battery battery. (2007.”Materials Today. Furthermore. in a time when electronics are shrinking to shopping an exciting and interactive experience. Cui. As technology trends towards thinner electronics less than half the energy density of Stanford’s battery. Such advantages make the paper battery a good option 108 mWh/g and is only about 300 μm thick. which 2007. is more than twice as thick and has monitors.5 V – as much as aforementioned potential applications in cereal boxes and common consumer batteries – and hold its power for over two other food products and packaging could make even grocery years [5]. as and electronic displays. while Stanford’s paper battery is electronic.Perhaps the most obvious advantage of paper batteries over Finally. Flexible Secondary Li-Ion Paper Figure 3: Energy density comparison graph [3] Batteries. the paper battery will play a larger shown in Figure 3. which is printed on a plastic substrate.html are fairly stage of research and development. instead of having to build the electronic around the both. making them a pitt_main&tabID=T003&searchId=R1&resultListType= promising investment [3]. In addition. Further a checkout counter. where the arrow indicates the improvement role in small electronics. paper batteries only need less than 0. Available: 144104_s1?view=fulltext [3] L. “Thin. expensive to commercialize since carbon nanotubes. This means that the cost of the carbon nanotubes SORT&inPS=true&prodId=AONE&userGroupName=u for paper batteries is essentially negligible. One square-inch of a Power it has the potential to revolutionize the way we shop.318. The Enfucell and compactness. While the paper battery is still in a direction [3]. F. [Online].com/ps/retrieve. and Blue Spark Inc. October). batteries can only lead to more breakthroughs in the field of paper electronics. Kiebele and G.galegroup. A http://www. Nature Nanotechnology. Its Paper battery can provide a voltage of 1. “Thin.2 Available: milligrams of carbon nanotubes per square centimeter of http://go. Y. “Paper powers battery Besides having obvious advantages over traditional batteries breakthrough”. Wu. [Online and having the potential to accelerate technology forward. including electrical efficiency developed by Enfucell 02107702250 [2] A. RESULT_LIST&contentSegment=&searchType=Adva n cedSearchForm&currentPosition=2&contentSet=GALE . So. it is clear that the paper battery will have significant impact on powering portable electronics in the future. (2007. are an essential component of the paper [5] M. References [1] battery. Paper Batteries: Thin. Scrosati. “Bendy Battery Made from Paper.nature. September). Available:http://apl. October). [Online Article]. 15. (2010.” Machine Design. H. (2007. the paper battery has many compared a paper battery that they made toa soft battery advantages over other batteries. Available: paper battery also has encouraging economical benefits. Additional Advantages 8158 [4] B. However. Yang. March 1).. Hu. The flexibility gives the paper battery a battery.” Applied Physics Letters. October). researchers at Stanford University electrode and the electrolyte.” American Chemical Society. “Carbon Nanotube Based Battery Architecture. Mantia. and it has already been developed enough make shopping more time efficient by eliminating the need for to have comparable outputs to traditional batteries. on the other hand. Stanford’s battery has an energy density of battery. Gruner. while carbon nanotubes currently cost Needs No Case.

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