The Advanced Materials Innovation Center (AMIC) of MIE Industry and Enterprise Support Center, a Japan-based foundation, has developed a lithium polymer battery that can be manufactured by printing technology.

Printed Lithium Ion Sheet Battery. Click image for the largest view.

The research group used a normal sheet-shaped flexible substrate but employed a printing technology that can be applied to roll-to-roll production. When a roll-to-roll production method is used, the thickness of the flexible substrate can be reduced, enabling the manufacturing of thin batteries.

Printed Lithium Ion Sheet Battery Side View. Quite thin, click image for the largest view.

There are two battery prototypes. One has an output voltage of about 4V at room temperature while the other has an output voltage of about 2V. The thickness of the battery is about 500μm, or 500 microns – that’s a half-millimeter.  Its negative and positive electrodes were formed on a flexible substrate by using printing technology.  The AMIC isn’t disclosing the battery capacity.  That could be disappointing, but the point is to get something small and light for something small and light.  Such things at this point in time aren’t going to have huge power demands, yet.

The AMIC says it did not use a printing technology to package the polymer electrolyte for the prototypes. Nor did they disclose the details of the polymer electrolyte or the negative or positive electrode materials.

But the design and production by using printing technology offers reduced thickness, increased surface areas and laminated construction.  Using a roll-to-roll production, costs can be reduced, and reducing costs for lithium technology is going to be a paramount concern.

The sheet-shaped battery is being researched to be used with a flexible solar cell and be attached to a curved surface. If the battery is integrated with a solar cell formed on a flexible substrate, it is possible to build a sheet that can be used both as a power generator and as power storage.

The effort is a three-year project that will end in March 2011. During the coming year, the research group plans to improve manufacturing technologies for commercial production, determine potential applications for the battery and set out the targets such as battery capacity.

Having the construction technology for simply sheets of batteries might open far larger fields of uses.  The capacity issue is of some concern, but 4 volts, using simple printing to construct the battery internal parts has to have a serious impact over time as the various anode and cathode materials are adapted to the assorted construction methods.

The lithium polymer battery is being developed in a research project of MIE Industry and Enterprise Support Center with the partners of Toppan Printing Co Ltd., Shin-Kobe Electric Machinery Co. Ltd, Kureha Elastomer Co. Ltd., Kinsei Matec Co. Ltd., Meisei Chemical Works Ltd., MIE University, Suzuka National College of Technology and MIE Prefecture Industrial Research Institute.

One has to think now that seeing something much lower in cost and simpler to manufacture will push research for thinner and lighter substrates, innovations in the anode and cathode materials and some clever electrolyte application processes.

This research bodes well for the future of lithium batteries.  Still quite expensive, lithium needs to get the manufacturing costs down.  Perhaps printing is the path, and at 4 volts per cell, a compelling one indeed.


2 Comments so far

  1. WHP on January 22, 2010 11:52 PM

    I don’t know if I totally agree… But, you do make a good point.

  2. federal student loan on November 8, 2010 9:51 AM

    Couldnt agree more with that, very attractive article

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