Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding, we all know that. What most of you don’t know is that an origami battery has been created. It is an inexpensive, foldable paper battery capable of generating a small amount of electricity. An engineer at Binghamton University in New York has come up with an origami battery that makes use of microbial respiration using a drop of dirty water on paper to create power.
The system has been explained in the July issue of the journal Nano Energy. A liquid containing bacteria is used for powering a paper-based sensor that would become useful in areas or situations where resources and access to electricity is scarce.
Seokheun ‘Sean’ Choi – the engineer who developed the battery – says, “Any type of organic material can be the source of bacteria for the bacterial metabolism. And we don’t need external pumps or syringes because paper can suck up a solution using capillary force.”
The battery can be folded down to the size of a matchbook and makes use of an air-breathing cathode that is quite economical. It is made of liquid nickel sprayed onto one side of a regular piece of paper. Actual origami techniques were employed for creating 3D stackable battery structures using original, 2D paper batteries.
The cost of creating batteries that are enough to power a biosensor in the field costs only 5 cents. As of now, the paper sensors have to be used in collaboration with hand-held devices to carry out analysis of the data that is being gathered. Choi has, however, managed to get a three-year, $300,000 grant from the US National Science Foundation to come up with a self-powered system that will be able to run the paper biosensor without depending on any other device.