Imagine designing a new product and then building a battery to fit it rather than designing products around a battery. Power Paper Ltd. (Tel Aviv, Israel) has developed a new technology to produce an ultrathin, caseless, low-cost power source that is as flexible as paper. The company claims that its 0.5-millimeter-thick battery can be manufactured into any shape or size.

The battery is made of five ink-like layers of material: a collector and cathode layer on one side, a collector and anode layer on the other, and an electrolyte core. It works on the same principles as a normal alkaline battery. A combination of zinc and manganese dioxide is used to generate electrical energy.

According to Power Paper, the material can be printed directly onto paper, plastic or other flexible material using traditional printing methods. Producing a battery currently costs 15 cents per square inch, but the company expects that price to drop as the technology is implemented.

The dry battery eliminates the need for a hermetically sealed case. A 1-inch-square printed cell will provide 1.5 volts with a capacity of 15 milliampere-hours. Potential applications include products with medium to low energy requirements, such as disposable or wearable microelectronic devices, smart tags or labels, and medical devices that monitor temperature or provide vital readings.