The first 3D-printed battery is as tiny as a grain of sand


Imagine a computer so small it could slip through the human bloodstream. At just a millimeter in width, a new battery built by a Harvard University and University of Illinois team is perfectly suited to be a power source for tiny computers. It is also the first battery to ever be fabricated with a 3D printer.

The team used a custom printer and ink to produce the batteries. A nozzle .03 millimeters–or 30 microns–wide deposited layers of nanoparticle-packed paste in a comb-like shape. A second printed comb nestled into the first, their teeth interlocked. These functioned as the two halves of electrodes, which conduct electricity.

After printing, the electrode layers quickly hardened and were placed in a small container filled with solution. The finished product measured in at less than a millimeter wide. The team published their work Tuesday in Advanced Materials (subscription required).

A battery like this could transform fields…

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