The Best Paper-Related Invention Since Sliced Paper

Remember in elementary school when they made you learn cursive because it would prove to be a necessarily skill later in life? Well, since then Al Gore invented the internet, computers became popular, and once-proud paper companies have struggled. Good news, Dunder Mifflinites because paper is coming back. How? In the form of batteries, of course! According to Janelle Weaver, Stanford Materials Sciences and Engineering Professor Yi Cui and his associates have made this happen. Now, I don’t really know much about this sort of thing, so I’ll let Daily Tech’s Michael Bartoviak explain how this works:

…Researchers discovered paper is able to support carbon nanotubes better than other normal household items.

After a sheet of paper is coated with the carbon nanotube ink, it is dipped into a “lithium-containing” solution that also has electrolytes — the electrolytes are necessary to generate current.

Take that, other normal household items! So, what does this mean for you? Actually, potentially quite a bit, reports the New York Times:

A potential application of the technology, [Cui] said, could be for large-scale energy storage on the electric grid. Such storage is important for smoothly integrating intermittent renewable energy resources like wind and solar into the electric infrastructure.

The material also charges and discharges quickly, making it potentially useful in hybrid or electric vehicles.

Will this give us the ability to store excess power more cheaply, bringing prices down (as I understand it, storage has been one of the chief problems keeping solar and wind power from being economically viable)? Have Stanford scientists unlocked the secret to making the electric car viable? Will the next generation of electric car look less dorky than the Prius? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but this does seem like it has the potential to be an important development.

Prof. Yi Cui explains how the paper battery works, and speculates on some potential applications after the jump

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