Rice Team Files for Patent on Paintable Battery

The Houston university announced their achievement June 28, and their paper about it was featured in Nature's online journal Scientific Reports that day.

A team from Rice University has successfully tested a rechargeable battery that can be painted on almost any surface and has filed a patent on the technique, the university reported June 28. A paper describing it was published the same day in the online journal Scientific Reports. The co-authors are graduate students Charudatta Galande and Akshay Mathkar; Rice graduate Wei Gao, who is a postdoctoral researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory; and research scientist Arava Leela Mohana Reddy; Rice Quantum Institute intern Andrea Miranda; and Alexandru Vlad, a former research associate at Rice who is now a postdoctoral researcher at the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium.

Lead author Neelam Singh, a Rice graduate student, and the team working in the lab of Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan created separate paints for each of the five layered components of the lithium-ion battery -– two current collectors, a cathode, an anode, and a polymer separator in the middle, according to the university's news release. One of the tests involved coating nine ceramic bathroom tiles, charging them with a solar panel and house current, and then spelling out RICE in heat-sealed powered LEDs for six hours.

"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 Ajayan, Rice's Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and of chemistry. "There has been a lot of interest in recent times in creating power sources with an improved form factor, and this is a big step forward in that direction."

The release says the paints were airbrushed onto surfaces including glass and stainless steel.

The Advanced Energy Consortium, the National Science Foundation Partnerships for International Research and Education, Army Research Laboratories, and Nanoholdings Inc. supported the research.

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