This foldable, paper-thin battery runs on dirty water, costs 5 cents

Paper-thin origami battery folds up, generates energy from dirty water.
Binghamton University
Let’s play a game. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word origami? Probably a bunch of paper cranes or flowers, right? Batteries are probably the furthest thing from your mind, but there’s one Binghamton University engineer, Seokheun “Sean” Choi, who hopes to change that for you.

Choi has constructed a battery – a five-cent battery, no less – that’s powered by microbial respiration. Through this generation process, Choi discovered how to operate a paper battery with just a drop of bacteria-laden liquid. In other words, it’s a battery that runs on dirty water.

Before it’s folded up, one side of the paper battery is screen printed with a special carbon-based paint to create an anode. On the other side, a coating of nickel-based solution is applied to the paper to create an air-breathing cathode. After being folded, the battery only needs bacteria to begin producing power. Add a single drop of murky puddle water and the battery has everything it needs to start spitting out juice.

Engineer Sean Choi, Binghamton University
Sean Choi, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Binghamton University. Binghamton University

The cell doesn’t produce a whole lot of power, but it doesn’t need to. Choi actually designed the system to be a power source for his paper-based bio-sensor — a device that only needs a couple microwatts to function. The idea is that eventually, these cheap, dirty-water-powered sensors could be used for disease control and prevention in third-world countries with limited access to medicine.

Choi didn’t invent the whole “paper-based biosensor” concept on his own though. These paper biosensors are something that scientists have explored before, but they’re typically designed to work in conjunction with some kind of handheld device. The ones Choi is working on, however, wouldn’t require any additional electronics to function.

“Choi envisions a self-powered system in which a paper-based battery would create enough energy — we’re talking microwatts — to run the biosensor,” according to Binghamton University.

Choi just received an almost $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to further his research. His journal article documenting the work will be published in the July edition of the journal Nano Energy.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Movies & TV

'Stranger Things' season 3 teaser reveals the new episodes' titles

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season.
Mobile

Sony rumored to favor Qualcomm's new superchip for upcoming Xperia XZ4

Sony may have released the Xperia XZ3 in the past few months, but already it's preparing to release a follow-up, the Xperia XZ4. We're learning plenty about the phone now some details have started to leak out, and it's getting exciting.
Emerging Tech

The best solar chargers for your phone, tablet, and other battery-powered gear

Looking for a gizmo that can help you charge your phone while on the go? Here, we've outlined the best solar chargers on the market, whether you're looking to charge your phone once, twice, or three times over.
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.
Giveaways

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.