Instead of ordering batteries by the pack, we might get them by the ream in the future.
Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York have created a bacteria-powered battery on a single sheet of paper that can power disposable electronics. The manufacturing technique reduces fabrication time and cost, and the design could revolutionize the use of bio-batteries as a power source in remote, dangerous and resource-limited areas.
“Papertronics have recently emerged as a simple and low-cost way to power disposable point-of-care diagnostic sensors,” said Assistant Professor Seokheun “Sean” Choi, who is in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department within the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science. He is also the director of the Bioelectronics and Microsystems Lab at Binghamton.
“Stand-alone and self-sustained, paper-based, point-of-care devices are essential to providing effective and life-saving treatments in resource-limited settings,” said Choi.
On one half of a piece of chromatography paper, Choi and PhD candidate Yang Gao, who is a co-author of the paper, placed a ribbon of silver nitrate underneath a thin layer of wax to create a cathode. The pair then made a reservoir out of a conductive polymer on the other half of the paper, which acted as the anode. Once properly folded and a few drops of bacteria-filled liquid are added, the microbes’ cellular respiration powers the battery.
“The device requires layers to include components, such as the anode, cathode and PEM (proton exchange membrane),” said Choi. “[The final battery] demands manual assembly, and there are potential issues such as misalignment of paper layers and vertical discontinuity between layers, which ultimately decrease power generation.”
Different folding and stacking methods can significantly improve power and current outputs. Scientists were able to generate 31.51 microwatts at 125.53 microamps with six batteries in three parallel series and 44.85 microwatts at 105.89 microamps in a 6×6 configuration.
It would take millions of paper batteries to power a common 40-watt light bulb, but on the battlefield or in a disaster situation, usability and portability is paramount. Plus, there is enough power to run biosensors that monitor glucose levels in diabetes patients, detect pathogens in a body or perform other life-saving functions.
“Among many flexible and integrative paper-based batteries with a large upside, paper-based microbial fuel cell technology is arguably the most underdeveloped,” said Choi. “We are excited about this because microorganisms can harvest electrical power from any type of biodegradable source, like wastewater, that is readily available. I believe this type of paper biobattery can be a future power source for papertronics.”
The innovation is the latest step in paper battery development by Choi. His team developed its first paper prototype in 2015, which was a foldable battery that looked much like a matchbook. Earlier this year they unveiled a design that was inspired by a ninja throwing star.
It is commonly referred to as Binghamton University (abbreviated BU) or SUNY Binghamton. Since its establishment as Triple Cities College in 1946, the school has evolved from a small liberal arts college to a large doctoral-granting institution. Presently consisting of six colleges and schools, it is now home to more than 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Binghamton is one of the four university centers in the State University of New York (SUNY) system.
Binghamton University is currently ranked 88th among the 201 national universities in U.S. News & World Report ’s 2015 America’s Best Colleges and Universities ranking; internationally, it is ranked 701+ according to QS University Rankings. It has been called a “Public Ivy” by Greenes’ Guide.
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has classified the school as a Research University with high research activity. Binghamton University is famous for the quality of education given the affordable price. For many years, it has been ranked as one of the top 10 best-value public colleges.
Although the university’s mailing address is in Binghamton, its main campus is in the nearby town of Vestal, with a secondary education center located in downtown Binghamton. The Vestal campus is listed as a census-designated place with a residential population of 6,177 as of 2010.
Binghamton University research articles from Innovation Toronto
- Researchers Can Identify You by Your Brain Waves with 100% Accuracy – April 25, 2016
- Clean energy generated using bacteria-powered solar panel – April 12, 2016
- Move Aside Carbon: Boron Nitride-Reinforced Materials Are Even Stronger – December 23, 2015
- Brain’s reaction to certain words could replace passwords – June 4, 2015
- Scientists create first computer-designed superconductor
- Researchers Design Sensitive New Microphone Modeled on Fly Ear
- What humans really want – creating computers that understand users
A new disposable battery that folds like an origami ninja star could power biosensors and other small devices for use in challenging field conditions, a Binghamton University engineer says.
Seokheun “Sean” Choi and two of his students developed the device, a microbial fuel cell that runs on the bacteria available in a few drops of dirty water. They report on their invention in a new paper published online in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.
Choi previously developed a paper-based origami battery. The first design, shaped like a matchbook, stacked four modules together. The ninja star version, which measures about 2.5 inches wide, boasts increased power and voltage, with eight small batteries connected in series.
“Last time, it was a proof of concept. The power density was in the nanowatt range,” says Choi, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. “This time, we increased it to the microwatt range. We can light an LED for about 20 minutes or power other types of biosensors.”