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Scientists develop a flexible carbon nanotube battery to go with flexible displays

Electronics manufacturers have been demoing flexible and curved displays for years, but they’ve never made it into consumer products. The closest we’ve gotten are the new generation of curved AMOLED phones from LG and Samsung, but they’re only slightly bendable. After all, lithium-ion batteries don’t take well to being bent and folded — they actually get a little flammable if you do that — but this may change soon. A team at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) has developed a flexible battery for mobile devices using carbon nanotubes.

Both Samsung and LG have talked about the quest for a flexible battery. This is one of the main impediments holding back flexible displays. In all those technology demos, the super-futuristic folding screens are always connected to an external power source. The principal reasons the new curved phones announced by Samsung and LG are so large (6-inches and over) is because they have to accommodate flat batteries within that curved housing. The technology developed at NJIT could solve that problem and take us much further.

Instead of using an expensive electronic printing technique for flexible batteries, as some past proofs of concept have, the NJIT researchers adapted standard battery electrochemical architectures to flexible materials. The base of the battery is simply a flexible plastic, but the carbon nanotubes and other nanoparticles serve as active components in the battery. The cathode, anode, and even the electrolyte are composed of nanoparticles in a semi-solid paste.


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