The Li-ion batteries we use to power our gadgets today are full of highly concentrated power. They are quite efficient for their size, but their cylindrical or rectangular shapes are very limiting when it comes to the size and shape of the gadgets they power. A team of researchers at Houston’s Rice University have created a spray-on battery that sort of deconstructs the traditional battery and rebuilds it, in layers, on flat surfaces.
Researchers were able to turn ceramic tiles into a linked series of batteries that powered a set of LEDs for six hours, as seen at top. The concoction could be sprayed onto nearly any surface to create novel power sources. The battery has to be built in a controlled environment, so it is unlikely that we will see batteries in a can for home use anytime soon. But the technology could someday be integrated with solar cells to turn any surface into an energy-collecting powerhouse.