What is a paper battery? A paper battery is a simple, flexible, and a lightweight electronic device, which performs the functions of both a capacitor and a battery. Before we start our comparison, let us first quickly find out:
How a paper battery is constructed?
There are usually four methods involved in the process of its manufacture.
- The first method involves electrolysis of Zinc and Manganese dioxide. The batteries are then printed on paper using a printing press. This paper is mixed with carbon nanotubes which are used as electrodes. This paper is finally dipped in a solution of an ionic liquid that acts as the electrolyte.
- The second method is somewhat difficult, as it involves developing nanotubes on a silicon substrate. Then, the gaps in the matrix are filled with cellulose and as soon as the matrix dries up, the arrangement of cellulose and nanotubes is peeled off. Now, sheets of paper consisting of carbon nanotubes are created. Thus, two such sheets are combined together to form a mega capacitor having electrolyte, which is ionic in nature and just like the human blood, or urine, or sweat.
- The third method is quite simple and can be done in a lab. It involves a rectangular sheet of paper sparkled with an ionic solution. A specially created carbon nanotube ink is then spread over this rectangular sheet. Then, a thin film of lithium is fixed on the other side of the paper. Finally, Aluminium rods are connected to carry current between the two electrodes.
- This method involves covering the molecules of stainless steel which are acted upon by various enzymes with carbon nanotubes. And then this substrate is dried at a temperature of eighty degrees Celsius for roughly five minutes, after which it is peeled off. Now, two films are used for each paper battery, and finally, the paper is then sandwiched between the two films using glue.
How does paper battery work?
This, we have discussed the construction of a paper battery, now let us understand its working procedure. The internal operation of both, paper and conventional batteries are quite similar, as both of them generate nearly about 1.5V. In conventional batteries, we have positively charged particles called cations and negatively charged particles called electrons. They move between positively charged electrode called Cathode and negatively charged electrode called Anode. The current generates as the electrons move from the anode to the cathode inside the conductor. The electrolyte here acts as an insulator, as it does not provide a free path for electrons to travel.
In the paper batteries, carbon nanotubes act as a cathode, the metal is the anode and the paper is the separator. Now, the chemical reaction between the metal and electrolyte gives rise to the production of ions. On the other hand, the reaction between carbon and electrolyte gives rise to the production of electrons. Now, these electrons flow from cathode to anode via an external circuit.
As of now, we have got a clear idea about the construction and working of paper batteries, with respect to normal conventional batteries. Now, let me explain to you
How paper batteries are better than conventional batteries:
Below are some of the solid reasons which will prove that paper batteries are definitely the winner in this battle of supremacy, and they overshadow their conventional counterparts. Don’t believe me? Well have a look below:
- Paper batteries have a long-lasting time when compared to their traditional counterparts batteries. While conventional batteries will run out of power and need to be replaced quite often, the paper batteries will continue to provide the energy.
- They are non-toxic since they do not involve any of the harmful chemical reactions. The conventional batteries, on the other hand, are toxic and possess harmful aftermaths after they are disposed of.
- They are flexible and can be folded or cut without any effect on their work performance. This is because of the fact that they are made of materials like cellulose and carbon nanotubes, and both of them have high tensile strength. The conventional batteries, on the other hand, are not at all that much more flexible and if any change is done to them like folding or cutting then it will have an adverse effect on their efficiencies and it may even damage them completely.
- One of the most important points here is that they are disposable as they are made up of cellulose which is biodegradable and non-toxic. The conventional batteries, on the other hand, pose a number of threats at the time of disposing of as they are highly toxic.
- They can be used in extreme weather conditions like hot and cold. This is because the electrolyte does not involve water which makes the battery to operate in the range of -73 to 143 degrees Celsius.
- Carbon nanotubes, which act as the cathode in paper batteries are of the most highly efficient conductors of electricity.
Now as we have discussed so many advantages which paper batteries have in comparison to their conventional counterparts. A question must have arisen in your minds that where can we use these paper batteries? The answer is simple, there are quite a lot of places where paper batteries are used. Let us discuss them in detail.
Paper batteries can act like a boon where size and portability are the main concerns. Many modern-day smart gadgets like smart cards, digital watches, and so on need the requirement of paper batteries because of their thin size, long-lasting feature, and non-toxic nature. Furthermore, wearable computer, which is a normal spectacle and an optical head-mounted display and glass is a computer in the form of a pair of eyeglasses and includes an optical head-mounted display which allows the user to use a smartphone. Google Glass is one of the examples of wearable computer.
These paper batteries can also be used for low power devices like calculators, wristwatches, etc. Well, it is not yet over, paper batteries also find their applications in wireless communication devices like mouse, Bluetooth headphones, keypads, and so on.
Now let me point you a few drawbacks that these paper batteries possess.
- They have low strength since cellulose has low shear strength. So, these batteries can be torn easily.
- Their construction is quite expensive
Thus, paper batteries possess a few drawbacks but it is not shocking at all, as we all know that in this world nothing is perfect, and just as every coin has head and tails, in a very similar way, every electronic gadget or device has its own set of advantages and drawbacks. Paper batteries are quite useful and have their set of applications and are even way better than their conventional counterparts as we have learned in this article.