Printed Power Sources for Cars and Consumer Gadgets

Two firms say their printing tech can make cheaper batteries and ultracapacitors

3 min read

21 December 2010—Printing promises to make electronics cheap, flexible, and scalable. Printed solar cells, sensors, and displays are already close to market, and makers of energy-storage devices are now starting to catch on. Two printable battery start-ups, with different technologies targeting different applications, described their devices at the Printed Electronics conference in Santa Clara, Calif., on 2 December.

Planar Energy Devices, an Orlando, Fla.–based spinoff of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, has developed a technique to print solid-state lithium batteries for electric vehicles. Its printed batteries store more energy, last longer, and are safer than their commercial counterparts, according to the company. Troy, N.Y.–based Paper Battery Co., meanwhile, is making flexible 100-micrometer-thick energy-storage sheets that could be molded onto electronics and medical devices or laminated beneath flexible solar panels. Both companies claim they should be able to print meters of batteries at a low cost.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

1 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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