Bendable battery appears in South Korea

By Peter Gothard
15 Jan 2013 View Comments
Battery life is an important factor for many smartphone users

An imprintable and bendable lithium-ion battery has been developed in South Korea, according to the country's Yonhap News Agency.

If the report is accurate, this would be a world-first, and could pave the way for flexible phones and tablets, effectively eliminating the need for the hard, rectangular form factor of today's devices.

Further reading

The batteries work by utilising nanomaterials that can be applied to any surface, effectively rendering the battery's polymer electrolytes a fluid.

South Korea's Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, which apparently helped to fund the research, also believes the batteries are more stable as a consequence of their pliant nature.

Conventional rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, says the ministry, can prove hazardous when the film that separates their electrolytes overheats.
Coupled with last week's Consumer Electronics Show reveal of the PaperTab, which consists of high-resolution, 10.7" flexible plastic touchscreens as thin as pieces of regular paper, roll-up, self-powered tablets now seem only a few years away.

The PaperTab project, developed at Queen's University in collaboration with electronics firm Plastic Logic, is even advanced to the point of including an operating system that allows separate Intel Core i5-equipped ‘pages' to interact with each other's contents.

Releasing hardware developers from the confines of the rectangle wouldn't just have an impact on the practical application of tablets in the world around us - allowing them to bend around work surfaces, vehicles and even our own bodies - it could also have an interesting effect on patent legislation as designs begin to wildly deviate from the norm.

Pliable battery technology could even spell the beginning of a future predicted by the likes of technologist Peter Cochrane, who recently told Computing that the next few years would see not just comfortably wearable technology, but hardware embedded directly into the body.

This Ministry's battery isn't the first news of pliable power from South Korea; LG released details of a similar prototype back in September 2012, detailing technology that could be used in a bendable smartphone.

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