Its use may be limited to a few low power applications, but a single sheet of paper could prove a major breakthrough for researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York.
The team says its ‘papertronic’ battery can harness power from ‘microbes’ cellular respiration’ when drops of bacteria-filled liquid are added to a carefully folded piece of chromatography paper.
The battery uses a cathode of silver nitrate placed underneath a thin layer of wax on one half of the piece of paper.
A reservoir is then made out of a conductive polymer on the other half of the paper to act as the anode.
Scientists claim to have generated 31.51 microwatts at 125.53 microamps with six batteries in three parallel series and 44.85 microwatts at 105.89 microamps in a 6×6 configuration.
The research paper was written by assistant professor Seokheun Choi, the director of the Bioelectronics and Microsystems Lab at Binghamton, and PhD candidate Yang Gao.
Choi said: “The device requires layers to include components, such as the anode, cathode and PEM (proton exchange membrane).
“The final battery demands manual assembly, and there are potential issues such as misalignment of paper layers and vertical discontinuity between layers, which ultimately decrease power generation.”
Although the technology is useless for high-energy applications, it could be used for low-energy devices such as biosensors in human patients.
The innovation is the latest step in paper battery development by Choi, whose team developed its first paper prototype in 2015.
Choi’s and Gao’s work is available online in the journal Advanced Materials Technologies.