Self-destructing battery could be a boon for military and medical electronics

One of the issues that the military has today with putting electronic devices into the field is if those devices are lost and fall into enemy hands, they have a major potential for giving away information that the enemy could take advantage of. This has led to military and researchers around the world to heavily invest in electronic devices that can self-destruct over time. Scientists from the Iowa State University say that they have now created the first practical transient battery to power these future self-destructing electronics.

Before the researchers made their current breakthrough, transient electronics required triggers to self-destruct and those triggers relied on external power sources that weren't transient. Scientist Reza Montazami and his team have developed a transient battery that is able to power a desktop calculator for about 15 minutes and then destroy itself within 30 minutes.

The battery uses lithium ion chemistry common to batteries today. The battery is encased in a degradable polymer making the battery about 1mm thick, 5mm long, and 6mm wide. It can deliver more than 2.5V, which is twice the voltage of other transient batteries. This new battery is also about 1,000 times faster at destroying itself than previous batteries of the type.

When the battery is submerged in water, the polymer casing swells, breaks, and dissolves. The nano and micro-sized particles inside the battery aren't water soluble, but the small size allows them to disperse easily. Montazami says that the particles are "hardly traceable". The team is currently performing more research on the mechanics of dissolution in the hope of designing more controllable systems. There is no indication of when the batteries might be commercialized right now.

SOURCE: Spectrum