Paper is good for a lot of things. It can be used to play a fun game of paper football. You can write on it. You can fold it into paper planes. Heck, you can even use paper-products to wipe your hiney. But did you know you can even use paper to store electrical charge? A team of researchers at Stanford University has proven that plain copier paper, when coated with carbon nanotube-impregnated ink, can hold charge just like a AA battery. Unlike a AA battery, though, the paper batteries can bend and discharge very quickly. Hopefully that doesn’t happen while your “wiping” yourself.
All kidding aside, the new technology promises to bring “paintable” batteries to life. The fibrous paper acts as a substrate that carbon nanotubes in the “paint” can readily cling to. When dipped in a solution containing lithium ions and an electrolyte, the carbon nanotubes go wild and generate electrical current. That current is stored on the paper.
The paper batteries could one day power future mobile phones with smaller, lighter weight batteries. These batteries would be capable of quick discharge. And, best of all, the properties of paper have been studied for centuries, making it easy to work with.
Next stop? Fabric-based batteries!