Scientists have learned how to print lithium-ion batteries on a 3D printer

The proportions of modern electronic devices are tied to the size and shape of the batteries that power them. But can this limitation be removed by creating freeform batteries? A joint team of scientists from Duke University and the University of Texas has proven this concept to be realistic.

As a basis, scientists took a substance that is actively used in plastic surgery to form the desired outlines of body parts - polylactic acid. Its modification in the form of a solution with crystals is quite suitable for use as a working substance in a 3D printer. But the trouble is, it is not an ionic conductor, so the scientists decided to experiment with impurities from ethyl methyl carbonate, propylene carbonate and lithium perchlorate in order to achieve the required electrical conductivity.

Next, the researchers used the scarce but convenient graphene to create an anode and carbon tubes to create a cathode. When assembled, the entire structure turned into a miniature battery, the resource of which was enough to activate the LED for 60 seconds. The main thing is that three-dimensional printing allows you to create such batteries in the form of flexible tapes, threads, strips, integrated into fabric or plastic, to give them almost any shape.

In fact, the choice of polylactic acid is rather a creative impulse of the authors of the study. They do not exclude that other materials for 3D printing are better suited for this task, and they do not leave hope to develop the most effective composition. The main thing is that the idea has received confirmation - and now imagine a work overalls or raincoat, which is laced with battery threads and stores energy to power dozens of gadgets at the same time.