Self-Destructing Battery Can Dissolve Itself in 30 Minutes

A new self-destructing battery can power a simple electronic device for up to 15 minutes and then dissolve in water. It could pave the way for so-called transient power sources for scientific instruments or tools of espionage, according to a new study.

Engineers have developed a novel variety of battery capable of powering a simple electronic device, such as a four-function calculator, and then dissolving in water in half an hour. The new transient battery represents a marked improvement in voltage and disintegration time over its predecessors, the researchers said.

The lithium-ion battery, the first transient battery of its kind, is “very similar to a conventional battery,” study co-author Reza Montazami, who heads the Advanced Materials Lab at Iowa State University, told Live Science. [Top 10 Inventions That Changed the World]

The battery’s polymer casing, made from a molecule that can form long repeating chains, swells and physically breaks itself and the other components into small pieces when exposed to water, the researchers said. Devices powered by this type of battery could serve their function or transmit data, and then be washed away in the rain.

“Their mechanism relies simply on hydration,” Christopher Bettinger, a polymer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh who was not involved with the new study, told Live Science. “That’s a unique discovery.”

The newly developed battery takes about 30 minutes to dissolve, Montazami said, whereas other transient batteries relying on different chemical processes can take hours or days to break down.

The battery can generate about 2.7 volts, which is similar to the electric potential produced by a pair of conventional AA batteries. This means the new invention can power devices that lower-voltage transient batteries cannot. However, the use of lithium makes the new battery unsuitable for biomedical applications, such as to power implants, Montazami said. Still, the invention could have other medical uses, in addition to being used for surveillance, military or environmental purposes, he said.

Because the current battery can power a device for only 15 minutes, its applications right now are limited, Bettinger said, but “it will be interesting to see the limits on capacity, theoretical or practical.”

And Montazami said he has other immediate plans. “Our next step is to gain a better understanding of how these batteries break down.”

The research was published June 22 in the Journal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics.

Original article on Live Science.

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Executive producer open to more 'Parenthood' in the future

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Executive producer Jason Katims said he’s still open to revisiting “Parenthood,” but just not yet.

“I would see picking it up after much time has passed,” he said Wednesday following a press event to promote his upcoming CBS medical drama “Pure Genius.”

“It’s got to start with a story you’re burning to tell. When I get to that point where I say, ‘I want to tell this story about the Bravermans.’ … then I’ll go about the work of calling Peter Krause or Lauren (Graham) and everybody else and say, 'Are you up for this?’”

When he is ready, Katims said he has “no idea” where that story will live, whether it’s Netflix or Hulu or some other streaming service or site.

“The landscape is so rapidly changing, so at that time it would be like, 'OK, what would be the right place to do this?’”

“Parenthood” ended its six-season run on NBC in 2015. The show followed a large, close family living in the San Francisco Bay area and became known for its emotional storylines like breakups, fertility struggles, PTSD and cancer.

Stock up on tissues because Katims said “Pure Genius” will also tug at the heart.

“I like accessing the emotional centre of stories and it’s become the vocabulary of how I think about story,” he said.

Katims has a track record of making television that viewers get very attached to, like his former series “Friday Night Lights.” After some initial talk of reviving that story he now says it’s not in the cards.

“'Friday Night Lights’ is not gonna happen,” he said. “I had entertained that for a while. It takes 100% commitment, everybody being committed, everybody wanting to do it, everybody thinking that’s a good idea.”




Alicia Rancilio, The Associated Press