Friday, April 19, 2024

Paper-Based Magnesium-Air Battery For Wearables

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Drawing inspiration from natural photosynthesis, this eco-friendly battery paves the way for sustainable and lightweight energy solutions, with potential applications in wearable devices and beyond.

Photographs and a circuit diagram of a SpO2 sensor without cover. On the front side, control IC chip and battery connector were equipped. On the back side, the LED and detector for measuring pulse and O2 saturation were equipped. Credit: RSC Applied Interfaces (2024). DOI: 10.1039/D4LF00039K

A team of researchers at Tohoku University has introduced a high-performance magnesium-air (Mg-air) battery that is both paper-based and water-activated. This showcases the potential of paper in revolutionising energy storage technologies. The research team drew inspiration from plants’ natural respiration mechanism, specifically photosynthesis. “Just as plants convert solar energy into sugar using water and carbon dioxide, our battery leverages magnesium as a substrate to produce power from oxygen and water,”they explained.

SEM images of water-absorbing paper sheets Surface structures of paper sheets were observed by using a scanning electron microscope (SEM, S-5200, Hitach HighTech, Hitachi, Japan). Credit: RSC Applied Interfaces (2024). DOI: 10.1039/D4LF00039K

To construct the battery, the scientists attached magnesium foil to paper and directly incorporated the cathode catalyst and gas diffusion layer on the opposite side. The paper battery achieved notable performance metrics, including an open circuit voltage of 1.8 volts, a current density of 100 mA/cm² at 1.0 volt, and a maximum power output of 103 milliwatts/cm². The team emphasizes the battery’s eco-friendly aspect: “The battery operates without toxic materials, utilizing carbon cathodes and a pigment electrocatalyst that have undergone rigorous assessments, ensuring its sustainability and safety.”

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The versatility of this paper-based Mg-air battery was demonstrated through its successful application in powering a pulse oximeter sensor and a GPS sensor, indicating its potential for use in wearable devices. This innovation represents a significant step forward in the quest for greener energy alternatives, as paper-based devices offer a lightweight, thin, and easily disposable solution that reduces dependence on metal or plastic materials. From paper-based diagnostic devices for rapid disease detection to environmentally friendly batteries and energy devices, scientists are exploring innovative ways to harness the potential of paper in various applications.

References: Kosuke Ishibashi et al, Rare-metal-free high-performance water-activated paper battery: a disposable energy source for wearable sensing devices, RSC Applied Interfaces (2024). DOI: 10.1039/D4LF00039K

Akanksha Gaur
Akanksha Gaur
Akanksha Sondhi Gaur is a journalist at EFY. She has a German patent and brings a robust blend of 7 years of industrial & academic prowess to the table. Passionate about electronics, she has penned numerous research papers showcasing her expertise and keen insight.

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