Moore’s Law — the projection that digital performance and capacity can be expected to double every 18 months — is always exciting to think about. But each new technological breakthrough and refinement we’re sure to cook up will also have a more mundane flip side: we will also have to dream up equally innovative ways to make them “go.”
Researchers at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics at Linköping University, Sweden, have dreamed up such an energy storage device, and it’s pretty exciting on its own merits. They call it “power papers:” made of easily sourced materials, and both thin and strong enough to be folded into an origami swan (!), it can hold up to 1 F, and can be used in challenging storage situations:
“The structural foundation of the material is nanocellulose, which is cellulose fibres which, using high-pressure water, are broken down into fibres as thin as 20 nm in diameter. With the cellulose fibres in a solution of water, an electrically charged polymer (PEDOT:PSS), also in a water solution, is added. […]
The new cellulose-polymer material has set a new world record in simultaneous conductivity for ions and electrons, which explains its exceptional capacity for energy storage. It also opens the door to continued development toward even higher capacity. […]It is light in weight, it requires no dangerous chemicals or heavy metals and it is waterproof.”
The next step for development is to create an industrial production process, to begin churning out power paper for innovations that require a sustainable, flexible, and efficient source of power. I can already think of a handful of applications for power paper – but I suppose the most exciting ones lie in the future, and our minds can’t even conceive of them yet. I can’t wait!