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South Korea Develops The World First Foldable Battery

posted 14 Feb 2014, 13:18 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 14 Feb 2014, 13:18 ]

The era of flexible phones and wearable computers has taken a step closer with the development of the world's first bendable lithium-ion battery. An efficient, stable, flexible battery has long been sought by companies like Samsung and LG who want to be first with the next gerneration of consumer electronics.

ULSAN, SOUTH KOREA (FEBRUARY 7, 2014) (REUTERS) -  Researchers at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology(UNIST) in South Korea, say they have developed the world's first rechargeable, bendable lithium-ion battery, a development that could herald a new era of flexible consumer electronics.

The paper-thin battery can function even when crumpled and folded, unlike conventional lithium-ion batteries which can become volatile when bent, even to the point of flammability. But the new battery has a much higher level of stability, due to a newly developed material of liquified crystal polymer electrolytes which are spread on electrodes and cured under ultra-violet light to solidify them.

The development of wearable, flexible computers has long been predicted in the electronics industry, with companies like Samsung developing flexible screen prototypes they hope will soon become marketable. But the display versions are usually powered by an external source. Their further development has been hampered by the lack of batteries that can bend and fold with the screens.

Lee Sang-young, an associate professor at UNIST, says the new material his team has developed could be key to moving flexible battery development into a new realm.

"It contains a material with high-performances of thermal resistance and mechanical flexibility. On account of these features, there are no security risks like swelling or explosion even if the cell is exposed to high temperature. And the battery works when it is bent, or even crumpled because it's been developed to sustain the flexibility," said Lee.

Lee says the new material is effective at temperatures of up to 80 degrees Celsius and is approximately 10 times thinner and 30 times more flexible than regular polymer electrolytes.

"We've developed the original technology of such battery. And as an important power supply, this kind of the battery will contribute to the development of the upcoming wearable era for mankind in the future," Lee said.

The research, funded by South Korea's ministry of Education, Science and Technology, was published in Advanced Materials.


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