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Battery for transient electronics dissolves in 30minutes

A relatively new field called transient electronics could enable self-destructing electronic devices for military, medical and environmental applications. Such transient devices could perform a variety of functions until exposure to light, heat or liquid triggers their destruction.

Looking to enable transient electronics, Reza Montazami from Iowa State University has developed a self destructing lithium-ion battery capable of delivering 2.5V that can dissolve or dissipate in 30 minutes when dropped in water. According to Montazami, the battery can power a desktop calculator for about 15 minutes.

“Any device without a transient power source isn’t really transient,” said Montazami. “This is a battery with all the working components. It’s more complex than our previous work.”

Montazami said the project presented three major challenges. First, the battery had to produce voltage similar that ofcommercial batteries. Second, the batteries required multiple layers and a complex structure. And third, fabricating the batteries was difficult and took repeated attempts.

Montazami’s previous proof of concept involved electronics printed on a single layer of a degradable polymer composite. However, the latest version is made up of eight layers, including an anode, a cathode and the electrolyte separator, all wrapped up in two layers of a PVA based polymer. The battery measures 1 x 5 x 6mm.

When dropped in water, the polymer casing swells, breaks apart the electrodes and dissolves, although it doesn’t disappear completely.

Graham Pitcher

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