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News Release 07-101

Origami Electronics?

Using carbon nanotubes, researchers turn ordinary wood-pulp paper into flexible, resilient batteries

Photo of hand holding new nanocomposite paper

The new nanocomposite paper developed by researchers at RPI is infused with carbon nanotubes.

August 14, 2007

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

By weaving black carbon nanotubes into paper, engineers have created printable, flexible batteries that are more resilient than many existing batteries, yet can be cut, folded and worked just like paper. The rechargeable material could find uses in a range of devices, from portable electronics to automobiles.

Researchers from NSF's Nanoscience and Engineering Center for Directed Assembly of Nanostructures at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., reported the new technology in the Aug. 13, 2007, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In addition to withstanding a temperature range extending from minus 70 degrees Celsius to nearly 150 degrees above zero, the new batteries are capable of providing both the constant output of a standard battery and the sudden energy bursts of supercapacitors.

Because almost any liquid salt can serve as the electrolyte, the researchers demonstrated that substances found in sweat, blood and urine can help power the battery, making the system ideal for medical applications.

Additional information is available in the RPI press release:


Media Contacts
Joshua A. Chamot, NSF, (703) 292-7730, email:
Michael Mullaney, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, (518) 276-6161, email:

Program Contacts
David L. Nelson, NSF, (703) 292-4932, email:

Principal Investigators
Robert Linhardt, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, (518) 276-3404, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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