When this correspondent told a coworker that researchers at Rice University had developed a paintable battery, his response was to sharpie an Eveready AA and hand it back. Perhaps a better description is (odd as it sounds) battery-able paint. As in, a paint that can be sprayed onto almost any surface, that holds and discharges energy.
With the technology, "we can convert almost any object to a battery," said Neelam Singh, a researcher in the project to InnovationNewsDaily. "Spray painting is already an industrial process, so it would be very easy to incorporate this into industry."
A more detailed breakdown of the technology, published in Scientific Reports, reveals the same essential elements of a battery are present in both the conventional and spray-on versions. A standard battery, built of bulkier components, maximizes volume to surface area ratios by rolling all the components into a tube; by contrast, the spray-on battery lays down those same elements in a series of thinly layered paints.
The resulting lithium-ion battery, reports CNET, barely loses capacity after 60 full charge/discharge cycles. A set of nine fully charged battery-painted bathroom tiles, hooked into an LED set that read "Rice" remained lit for 6 hours on a steady 2.4-volt diet.
Sing told the Associated Press that, for the time being, some of the materials involved are too toxic for outdoor use, but with a little tinkering environmentally-friendly alternatives will be found. When that happens, the batteries could be prime for solar energy development.