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Power Science

Researchers Develop Solid But Flexible Electrolyte For Bendable Batteries 41

hypnosec writes "Korean scientists have developed a 'fluid-like' polymer electrolyte used in lithium-ion batteries that would pave way for flexible batteries and flexible smartphones. The discovery was made by a joint team of researchers that was led by Professor Lee Sang-young of Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology. The new electrolyte, though flexible, is made of solid materials hence making the batteries more stable than the lithium-ion batteries used today." Paper, but full text is paywalled.
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Researchers Develop Solid But Flexible Electrolyte For Bendable Batteries

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  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @11:13AM (#42603483) Homepage

    I drop every gadget I've ever owned. Some of them multiple times every day. And I mean, drop, as in pull something out of my pocket and my satnav/phone/etc. goes flying out with it at high speed and whacks against a wall and then hits the floor.

    I have yet to actually BREAK a gadget like that. I have scratched screens slightly but never to the point they were unusable. Hell, most of my gadgets end up going through the washing machine and dryer at least once in their life.

    A flexible phone just seems to have other ways to break it - flexing it too far, applying pressure at odd angles when flexed, etc. Unless I can actually fold it like paper, it's going to have a point where it breaks. And if I can fold it like paper, then it's going to have to suffer what a piece of paper (like a receipt) can go through in the bottom of your pocket afresh EVERY DAY without problems.

    Hell, most paper receipts in my pocket don't last 24 hours without tearing or being so folded and smudged that they are unreadable. I can't imagine a plastic device of any material tolerating that at all.

    If a phone is "flexible", it has to be VERY flexible. Almost ridiculously flexible. I don't think this generation or even the next of flexible gadgets will be. But if it's solid, it only has to be quite solid, and have a little band of rubber in the right place and it's nigh-on invincible in daily use, and we already know how to do that (whether manufacturer's BOTHER to do it is another matter, I'm still waiting for a laptop with decent hinges on the screen because that's killed every laptop I've ever owned).

    I honestly don't think that if I took one of these "flexible" phones and tried to fold it in half along a sharp crease that it would work afterwards. And that's exactly the kind of thing that would happen in my pocket with my large bunch of keys, wallet, GPS, etc. in it at various times of the day.

    All being flexible does is give you ways to put even more pressure on the materials. Solid devices cannot occupy each other's spaces, and internal materials are protected by an external core (which means only half your things have to be able to take abuse).

    But a flexible phone, thrown in my pocket, will uncurl, curve, twist and bend as I walk and EVERY component has to suffer that. Then when I throw my keys in or ram a chocolate bar into my pocket, it's going to put huge pressure on the edges of those curves and make things bend perpendicular to anything it's already experiencing and that's going to snap it, break it, pop it (I imagine if you flex one area, it will have to "pop" into a shape to relief the stress, like those squidgy-balls-in-a-net), or just make the internals wear to the point that a vital connection stops working.

    Seriously, the "gentle-wibble" that I see in demos today isn't flexibility that's practical. Show me a phone you can screw up like a piece of paper while in the heat of the moment and then just throw, and it survives it thousands of times over, then you might have a material that can live up to public consumption.

    My car aerial is "flexible", but I can't get it back to straight if I kink it. That's the sort of flexible they are selling, but not the sort they are promising.

Fear is the greatest salesman. -- Robert Klein