Here at HEXAPOLIS, we have talked about biodegradable electronics that are designed to automatically dissolve once their job is done. Such self-destructing devices could be especially useful in the world of medicine, where implants currently have to be surgically removed, as well as the military. As part of a new research, scientists at the Iowa State University have devised an innovative transient battery, which as its name suggests can melt away in less than 30 minutes.
Technological advancements in recent years have allowed researchers to develop an array of self-destructing electronics that are capable of performing specific functions. Up until now, however, these devices were driven by external power sources. Previous attempts to create transient batteries largely gave birth to contraptions that lacked power, stability and a substantial shelf life. More often than not, they were also quite slow in demolishing themselves. Speaking about the research, recently published in the Journal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics, the team stated:
Unlike conventional electronics that are designed to last for extensive periods of time, a key and unique attribute of transient electronics is to operate over a typically short and well-defined period, and undergo fast and, ideally, complete self-deconstruction and vanish when transiency is triggered. Any device without a transient power source isn’t really transient. This is a battery with all the working components. It’s much more complex than our previous work with transient electronics.
As pointed out by Reza Montazami of Iowa State University, the newly-built battery is not only more powerful and stable than its predecessors, but can actually cease to exist in under 30 minutes. Furthermore, it can be used to run a desktop calculator for nearly 15 minutes. For the research, the scientists turned to the technology behind commercially-available lithium ion batteries.
The transient battery features nano- and microparticles of silver and lithium salts as its active components, which are in turn enclosed inside special degradable polymer. Measuring around 5mm in length, 6mm in width and approximately 1mm in thickness, the self-destructing contraption is designed to deliver over 2.5 volts of electricity. This, according to the researchers, is twice what other transient batteries are capable of.
What’s more, it can melt away at a speed nearly 1,000 faster than similar batteries existing today. In case of self-destructing electronics, it is often exposure to heat, light or even liquids that causes a device to destroy itself. As pointed out by the team at Iowa State, the battery’s polymer swells up, disintegrates and finally dissolves when exposed to water. Although not entirely water soluble, the active components easily disperse, thanks to their nano-size. Montazami said:
The particles are hardly traceable.
The transient battery could one day power environmental sensors that safely dissolve when no longer needed. Additionally, it could also be used to keep military secrets away from the enemies as well as self-dissolving medical implants.
Source: Iowa State University