A group of scientists from Duke University has developed a new method to 3D-print lithium-ion batteries in virtually any shape.
In a paper published in ACS Applied Energy Materials, the researchers explain how they use electrolyte solutions to improve ionic conductivity of polymers used for 3D printing, such as polylactic acid or polylactic acid. This process allows them to print complete lithium-ion batteries using cheap machines.
In addition to printing the battery, Reyes and Wiley's team boosted the battery's electrical conductivity by incorporating graphene or multi-walled carbon nanotubes into the anode or cathode, respectively.
For now, however, the capacity of the first generation of 3d printed batteries is two orders of magnitude lower than that of commercial batteries, which are too low to actually use.So the team is working on several ideas to increase the capacity of the device, such as replacing pra-based materials with 3d-printed paste.