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Dispenser Printed Zinc Microbattery with an Ionic Liquid Gel Electrolyte


Rapid trends show a steady decrease in electronic device form factors, which are miniaturizing and flattening, while demonstrating an increase in device functionality, requiring complex and exacting power needs. This movement has motivated a shift in energy storage design and manufacture to accommodate novel and unconventional materials, new device geometries, and non-traditional fabrication methods. A combination of these strategies will lead to a revolution in the way energy storage components are designed, integrated, and utilized in electronic devices.

In this work, we present one possible strategy combining a materials innovation with simple engineering methods to fabricate and integrate batteries directly onto a device. A novel ionic liquid gel electrolyte compatible with zinc-metal oxide battery systems was synthesized. This gel electrolyte properties and its compatibility with the electrodes, current collector materials, packaging, and substrates were investigated.

A simple, low-cost, solution-based printing method for integrating energy storage components directly onto a device is demonstrated with a direct write dispenser printing system. The dispenser printer is able to pattern "inks" into multilayer devices with custom dimensions.

Printed 1 cm2 zinc-metal oxide microbatteries utilizing the ionic liquid gel electrolyte were fabricated and then various device quantities such as its storage capacity, power performance, self-discharge, and other properties were characterized. Prospective applications of this printable battery include flexible electronics and applications that need highly customized integrated or miniature energy storage such as printed circuit boards, permanent power supplies for autonomous wireless sensors, and active RFID tags.

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