Binghamton University researchers just developed a new type of battery that could revolutionize microelectronics – and it’s made from a single sheet of paper and a liquid teaming with bacteria. The simple batteries could power glucose monitors, detect pathogens, and keep small electronics running for days without external power – which makes them incredibly useful for remote and resource-limited areas.
The battery consists of a piece of chromatography paper, a ribbon of silver nitrate, and a layer of wax, which forms a cathode. On the other side of the paper, a reservoir made of a conductive polymer acts as an anode. To power the battery, the paper needs to simply be folded in half and sprinkled with a few drops of bacteria-rich liquid. At that point, the cellular respiration of the microbes drives a current to generate electricity.
When six of the batteries are placed in a in a grid and folded together, they can generate up to 44.85 microwatts and 105.89 microamps. While it would take millions of these batteries to power a single 40-watt light bulb, they’re designed to serve a different purpose. In a disaster zone or other off-grid area, these batteries could provide a vital source of power for small biosensors.
This isn’t the first time the Binghamton team has created a paper battery powered by bacteria. Assistant Professor Sean Choi previously created a paper prototype in the shape of a matchbook, and another inspired by a ninja throwing star. The latest research has been published in the journal Advanced Materials Technologies.
Images via Binghamton University