Feb. 13 - The era of flexible phones and wearable computers has come a step closer with the development of the world's first foldable lithium-ion battery. An efficient, stable, flexible battery has long been sought by companies like Samsung and LG who want to be first with the next generation of consumer electronics. Rob Muir reports.
It looks like a student science experiment - wires attached to the electrodes of a lab-made battery make a circuit that sends electricity to a light bulb. But this particular battery is different. In fact it's the first of its kind...a lithium ion battery that can be twisted, folded or bent, yet continues to work. Its key component is a liquified polymer that's unaffected by the temperature volatility found in conventional lithium batteries, according to Lee Sang Young of the Ulsan National Insititute of Science and Technology. (SOUNDBITE) LEE SANG-YOUNG, SOUTH KOREAN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ULSAN NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY SAYING: "It contains a material with high-performances of thermal resistance and mechanical flexibility. On account of these features, there are no security risks like swelling or explosion, even if the cell is exposed to high temperature. And the battery works when it is bent, or even crumpled because it's been developed to sustain the flexibility." And for the consumer electronics industry, that could spark a revolution in battery design. Flexible screen technology, is being heralded as the next big thing, although prototypes for display have always been powered by an external electrical source because no battery exists that can flex or fold along with the screen. Lee says that might be about to change. SOUNDBITE) LEE SANG-YOUNG, SOUTH KOREAN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ULSAN NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY SAYING: "We've developed the original technology of such a battery. And as an important power supply, this kind of battery will contribute to the development of the upcoming wearable era for mankind in the future." It's an era, that Lee believes and technology companies hope, is just around the corner.