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Featured in the U.S. scientific journal "Science"

Outlook for soft plastic batteries

Epoch-making radical polymers attracting attention from the world in the battery field

In general, a molecule is composed of electron pairs, but an electron of a radical is not paired. Therefore, a radical triggers an intense reaction, seeking another electron. With the radical polymer form, it is possible to handle a radical in a stable manner.

The paper coauthored by Prof. Hiroyuki Nishide and Associate Prof. Kenichi Oyaizu of Department of Applied Chemistry, Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering titled "Toward Flexible Batteries-soft plastic batteries would change the world" was inserted into the U.S. scientific journal "Science" issued on February 8, 2008. "Science" is published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and one of the most prestigious academic journals in the world. This indicates the growing interests in this research.

The paper discusses the potential of organic radical batteries containing plastic called radical polymer. At present, the needs for rechargeable secondary batteries are rapidly growing. Such batteries are essential for the development of a ubiquitous society, and could be used as the power source of electric vehicles, robots, and medical apparatus, etc. In addition, such batteries are necessary for harnessing natural energy through wind-power generation and solar cells.

At present, commonly-used batteries are composed of metals, such as lead, cobalt, and lithium. Metal is convenient for applying, but accompanied by the finiteness of resources, the problem of disposing of them, and the safety issue, etc. If plastic supplants metal, it is possible to solve these problems and enhance the potential of batteries. Plastic is combustible, and so plastic has lower environmental burdens than metal. Plastic is also safer. Furthermore, plastic is lighter and softer than metal, and so it can be deformed and folded freely.

Prof. Nishide has studied the know-how for producing the plastic that is sensitive to electricity and magnetism for over 20 years. Especially, radical polymer can accumulate electricity very rapidly; when a general battery used in a cell phone is replaced by the radical polymer battery, it is possible to recharge it to the full in 10 seconds.

A variety of applications are expected. One example is mounting it on clothes, bags, notes, and credit cards to transmit or display some information. It is no exaggeration to say that radical polymer is the most promising plastic material in the world. It can be said that this is one of the researches unique to Waseda University, which pursues "practical chemistry" to contribute to the world.

Comment from the professor

Creation of Future Technology from Waseda University which is well known for practical science research

Department of Applied Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Engineering Prof. Hiroyuki Nishide (Left)
Associate Prof. Kenichi Oyaizu (Right)

Our research into radical polymer has been recognized by the world, through the insertion into journals and the assistance project of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. This time, we are honored to find that our paper has been inserted into the world-famous "Science."

This outcome was crystallized by the vigorous efforts of the laboratory team of Waseda University, who researched wherever and whenever they could. Harnessing this tailwind, we would like to ride the wave so as to keep being recognized by everyone in the world. Like we cannot get any scores unless we hit continuously, research cannot contribute to the world unless it accumulates some achievements. Like Waseda University is strong in marathon relay race and rugby, we would like to spotlight the science of Waseda University on the global stage.