There is a new battery under development that is thinner than a millimeter, lighter than a gram and can be produced cost-effectively through a printing process. A German research team, led by Reinhard Baumann of the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Electronic Nano Systems (ENAS) in Chemnitz together with colleagues from TU Chemnitz and Menippos GmbH, believes the printable battery could be produced cost-effectively on a large scale.

Andreas Willert, group manager at ENAS says, “Our goal is to be able to mass produce the batteries at a price of single digit (Euro) cent range each.”

The small, thin battery is produced a printer and can be applied to flexible substrates. That makes it economically and practically possible to energize things such a bankcards and other small devices. The Institute makes the case with an example: In the past, it was necessary to race to the bank for every money transfer and every bank statement. Today, bank transactions can be easily carried out at home. In the future, simply touch your bankcard and a small integrated display shows the desired information.

The batteries are printed using a silk-screen printing method similar to that used for t-shirts and signs. A rubber screen presses the printing paste through a silk-screen onto the substrate. A template in the silk-screen covers the areas that are not to be printed on. Through this process it’s possible to apply comparatively large quantities of printing paste, and the individual layers are slightly thicker than a hair. The researchers have already produced the batteries on a laboratory scale.

The battery contains no mercury. Its voltage is 1.5 V, and by connecting several batteries in a series, voltages of 3 V, 4.5 V, 6 V, etc., can also be achieved. The battery chemistry is composed of different layers, including ones for the zinc anode and the manganese cathode. Zinc and manganese react to produce electricity. However, the anode and the cathode layer dissipate gradually during this chemical process. Therefore, the battery is only suitable for applications with a limited life span or a limited power requirement.