Researchers at Linköping University in Sweden have just announced the development of “power paper – a new material with an outstanding ability to store energy.” The new material, developed at the university’s Laboratory of Organic Electronics, consists of nanocellulose and a conductive polymer, which can be prepared as a pulp and formed into paper sheets. According to the announcement, “one sheet, 15 centimetres in diameter and a few tenths of a millimetre thick can store as much as 1 F, which is similar to the supercapacitors currently on the market. The material can be recharged hundreds of times and each charge only takes a few seconds.”
According to Wikipedia, one farad is “an impractically large unit of capacitance,” suggesting that the new material could have a seriously large capacity. In fact, the announcement continues,
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. Unlike the batteries and capacitors currently on the market, power paper is produced from simple materials – renewable cellulose and an easily available polymer. It is light in weight, it requires no dangerous chemicals or heavy metals and it is waterproof.
The pictures of the new material show it being prepared by a simple mixing process. The challenge is now to develop an industrial scale process for production of power paper, before it can be implemented in actual products.
Clearly, we’re years away from seeing power paper in regular consumer tech. However, I shouldn’t need to spell out the potential if this material can be used to power the kind of folding or rollable screens or horizon display technologies that Samsung and others have filed patents for. We could end up with e-paper devices that are actually paper thin, foldable or rollable, and yet still fully powered.