Dec 28, 2018 | By Cameron

A research group led by Professor Il-Doo Kim from the Department of Materials Science at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has successfully 3D printed custom-shaped batteries. As electronics continue to shrink, their shapes become more dictated by the shape of their batteries because batteries have not shrunk at the same rate as microprocessors, sensors, and circuit boards. If electronics are to find their way into clothing and other wearables as many have forecasted, batteries will have to better conform to the shapes of the wearable devices to avoid bulkiness.

In a collaborative effort with Professor Jennifer Lewis and her team from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University, various shapes of batteries were 3D printed with an environmentally friendly aqueous Zn-ion charge carrier. The Zn2+ charge carrier is much safer than the traditional Li+ as it doesn’t contain the highly flammable organic electrolytes that combust when exposed to oxygen and moisture.

The Zn-ion batteries are stable in normal ambient environments and can be fabricated without the need of a clean room and dangerous solvents. Professor Kim explains, “Zn-ion batteries employing aqueous electrolytes have the advantage of fabrication under ambient conditions, so it is easy to fabricate the customized battery packs using 3D printing.”

The team 3D printed a ring shape as well as an H- and U-shaped battery, and they have very quick charge rates, reaching 50% capacity in only two minutes. The ring was demonstrated to function as a wearable light sensor by Dr. Youngmin Choi at the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology (KRICT).

“3D-printed batteries can be easily applied for niche applications such as wearable, personalized, miniaturized micro-robots, and implantable medical devices or microelectronic storage devices with unique designs,” said Professor Lewis. Fabricating custom-shaped batteries is a necessary step in extending the web of the Internet of Things, and 3D printing will surely help facilitate that step.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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