Battery technology has come a long way since Benjamin Franklin originally coined the term. Continuous development throughout the last two hundred years has enabled inventions that have shaped the course of history, and battery research continues to contribute to a broad range of new products. In recent years, advancements in thin film batteries have made it possible for researchers and manufacturers to expand into even more untapped markets.
With the ability to create custom batteries for almost any type of product, the possibilities are limitless. Many industries have taken note of the flexibility that thin film batteries offer and are developing innovative solutions.
5 Thin Film Battery Applications
Some of the many potential applications for thin film batteries include:
Wearable electronics – Smart watches are just starting to emerge, but they are only one part of a trend toward more wearable electronics. Health-monitoring devices, location trackers, and smart jewelry are becoming increasingly more popular as the technology becomes more affordable. Consumers are welcoming wearable electronics because they offer convenience, status, and new ways to perform everyday activities with both single-use and rechargeable products.
Medical devices – Skin patches for drug delivery, diagnostic devices, and medical sensors are just a few examples of the potential applications for thin film batteries in the healthcare industry. Some others include neural stimulators, transdermal patches, hearing aids, and implantable devices. In these use cases, bio-compatibility is often a concern that must be addressed in the selection of chemicals and components for the battery.
Smart packaging – Smart labels can be designed to monitor the temperature of goods, display evidence of tampering, or indicate freshness. Thin film batteries can be incorporated into packaging and labels for pharmaceuticals, food, or any other type of product. When using a thin film battery for packaging applications, the technology must be able to handle the environmental conditions to which the package will be subjected, including extreme temperatures, moisture, and physical impact.
Novel consumer products – Interactive greeting cards, toys, novelties, and other consumer products that can benefit from a power source with a thin, flexible profile are appearing on the market more and more as the technology’s price point continues to drop.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) – Battery-assisted passive RFID enables data transmission over greater distances. In some cases, coin-cells are not a suitable size or shape and thin film batteries present a more viable alternative. For example, applying a flat label with integrated battery-assisted passive RFID to a carton ensures that you can track it through the entire supply chain. Because it can broadcast a signal at any time, you don’t have to rely on the last scan to determine its precise location. Examples of industries that use RFID in supply chain management include retail companies, car manufacturers, and medical supplies providers. Pharmaceutical companies also use RFID in product labels for counterfeit prevention.
These are just a few examples of the many ways that thin film batteries can be used for both everyday and specialized products. The specific application will determine how to prioritize factors such as price, safety, and whether the battery needs to be disposable or rechargeable.
As the technology continues to evolve, so do the imaginations of inventors and researchers. What ideas do you have for thin film battery applications?