Researchers Discover Paper-Thin, Rechargeable “Power Paper”

In the near future, it’s possible to have paper-thin portable power sources for your smart devices such as your laptop or smartphone. Researchers at the Linköping University have come up with a material that has great energy-storing capabilities at the thickness of a sheet of paper.

Called power paper, this new material is seen to have huge potential for providing power for electronics. This material is measuring at only a tenth of a millimeter thick with a diameter of 15 centimeters.
Regarding energy storage, it rivals commercially available supercapacitors thanks to its capacitance of 1 Farad. Researchers say that this “power paper” can be recharged up to hundreds of times before it loses its charging capability, and each recharge is almost instantaneous – it only needs a few seconds to gain a full charge.

In answering the future energy demands, the power paper is coined a “dream product” – a material that has tremendous power-storing abilities in a relatively tiny form factor. According to Xavier Crispin, one of the proponents of this research project, the research team has improved on the existing thin capacitor films found in the market by making the power paper a three-dimensional material, able to be produced in thick sheets.
power paper
It is seen that the power paper can be flexible enough to be produced in a thicker form to have even greater power storage capability for many practical applications.

At a glance, the material looks and feels like plastic. The power paper is made up of nanocellulose, made by breaking down cellulose fibers using high-pressured water to as thin as 20 nanometers in diameter.

The making of the power paper starts from the production of nanocellulose, which is then mixed with an electrically-charged polymer in a solution of water. This polymer acts as an “electrolyte” that wraps around the very tiny cellulose fibers that forms like tangled wires.
power paper
As compared to conventional portable power sources such as batteries, the power paper is certified to be free of harmful chemicals or substances and is waterproof. It is also economically viable thanks to its use of simple raw materials such as cellulose and a polymer that is readily available and easy to produce in large quantities.

It is similar to a regular paper pulp since it needs to be dehydrated before it can be produced. Researchers say that the power paper needs to have a well-designed industrial-scale manufacturing process to be commercially produced and become the future replacement for batteries and capacitors.

The power paper project has been in the works since 2012, thanks to funding from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. It already garnered outstanding records for its ability to hold a high charge capacity and create the highest current flow among organic electronics.

Photo credits: Linköping University