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NEC creates amazingly thin Organic Radical Battery

April 4, 2012

It’s not every day that I get overly excited about a new breakthrough in technology, a so-called “innovation” or a “revolutionary achievement”. Over the years, I have seen many things that didn’t blow me off my feet, but today I have to bow in front of NEC.

The Japanese-based multinational IT company is currently working on an ultra thin (no, scratch that, rather super-ultra-extra thin) “Organic Radical Battery” and, after taking a look at some of the latest photos released by NEC, I must say that, for the first time in a while, I am truly amazed!

The organic radical battery (ORB) technology has been in the works for a while (at least three years now, according to some sources), and won’t be finished until 2013, but trust me, this is something to wait for and something that really deserves the wait.

A 0.012 inch flexible battery made from organic materials? Indeed!

The ORB’s latest iteration is just 0.3 mm (0.012 inch) thick, is flexible and is designed to fit into integrated circuit cards, used for public transport payment or credit cards. Even though the battery is literally as thin as a sheet of paper, it has a 3 mAh capacity, which, for instance, would allow a small screen (the guys at NEC didn’t give any details on the screen’s exact size, so I would guess smaller than a smartphones’s) to be refreshed two thousand times.

The new Organic Radical Battery is made using printing technologies, to integrate circuit boards with batteries and enable negative electrodes to be directly formed on the circuit boards. I’m not sure exactly what that works, as I wasn’t exactly the science geek back in high school, but I think I can safely assume that this too is an innovative technology in its own.

Aside from being capable of “2,000 display screen updates”, the new ORBs should supposedly maintain 75 percent of their charge-discharge capacity after 500 cycles, which is equally better, if not better, than the performance of today’s lithium-ion batteries used in mobile phones.

What NEC plans to do with this technology once it’s finished is still unclear, but a couple of their ideas already sound pretty exciting. According to NEC’s claims, the battery could be printed directly onto an IC (integrated circuit) card during the manufacturing process. Future IC cards could feature teeny weenie displays to show remaining credit balance for credit cards, data transmission capabilities, or enhanced security apps.

I’m not going to comment very much on this innovation, because, honestly, it kind of surpasses my powers of understanding. I just want to say that in today’s technology market, where we so often witness allegations of intellectual theft or copyright infringements, it’s refreshing to see companies like NEC that invent and innovate for a change. Bravo, guys, and keep up the good work!