Panasonic has announced its latest flexible battery innovation, which it will be showing off at CEATEC in Japan next week. When combined with flexible displays, printed electronics, and increasingly small processing packages, this could be the technological breakthrough that bendable smartphone enthusiasts have been waiting for.
According to Panasonic, the battery can be bent and twisted up to a radius of 25mm, with a maximum angle of 25 degrees, over 1000 times, while still retaining 99 percent of its charge. Importantly given recent other battery related problems in the news, twisting the cell is completely safe as well. To obtain these properties, Panasonic has custom designed a laminated outer layer to prevent leakage and over-heating, and newly developed internal structure, but the real secrets are hidden away in the company’s patents.
Unfortunately, as always seems to be the case with these flexible technologies, there’s still more work to be done before this is ready for powerful pieces of technology, such as smartphones. Currently, the batteries are only designed to hold charges between 17.5 mAh and 60 mAh each. That’s a long way behind the 3,000 mAh cells that we’re used to in top of the line Android phones. However, tens of milliamp hours is enough to power some low power wearables, and these cells might be able to be chained together, say in a smartwatch strap, for some extra battery life.
Panasonic is targeting its batteries to power pieces of smart clothing, smart cards, and key cards. For starters, Panasonic’s flexible lithium-ion battery will most likely make its way into small form factory IoT devices and cards, but there’s the possibility that this technology could be scaled up for larger flexible electronics in the future.
After showing off its batteries at CEATEC JAPAN 2016 from October 4 to 7, Panasonic plans to begin shipping out samples by the end of October.