UCSD researchers have developed a flexible, rechargeable silver oxide-zinc battery with a five to 10 times greater areal energy density than state of the art. The battery also is easier to manufacture; while most flexible batteries need to be manufactured in sterile conditions under vacuum, this one can be screen printed in normal lab conditions. The device can be used in flexible, stretchable electronics for wearables as well as soft robotics.
Summary: The rise of flexible electronics calls for cost-effective and scalable batteries with good mechanical and electrochemical performance. In this work, we developed printable, polymer-based AgO-Zn batteries featuring flexibility, rechargeability, high areal capacity, and low impedance. Using elastomeric composites, the current collectors, electrodes, and separators can be fabricated via a high-throughput, scalable, and layer-by-layer screen-printing process and vacuum-sealed in a stacked configuration. The batteries are customizable in sizes and capacities, with the highest obtained areal capacity of 54 mAh/cm2 for primary applications. Advanced X-ray tomography, impedance spectroscopy, and rigorous deformation tests were used to characterize the battery. The batteries were used to power a flexible E-ink display system that requires a high-current drain and exhibited superior performance compared to commercial lithium coin cells under the same pulsed-discharge conditions. The developed battery presents a practical solution for powering a wide range of electronics and holds major implications for the future development of high-performance flexible batteries.