Electronics that self-destruct over time could be the key to military applications to help keep secrets out of enemy hands, medical implants that don’t need surgical removal, and environmental sensors that melt away when no longer needed. Now scientists at Iowa State University say they have developed the first practical transient battery to power them.
Recently, scientists have developed a wide range of transient electronics that can perform a variety of functions until exposure to light, heat, or liquids triggers their self-destruction. Until now, however, these devices largely relied on external power sources that were not transient themselves.
Early research into transient batteries led to devices with limited power, stability, and shelf life. They were also slow to destroy themselves, says Reza Montazami, a materials scientist at Iowa State University who led the effort to invent a better transient battery. Now Montazami and his colleagues have developed a transient battery that can power a desktop calculator for about 15 minutes and destroy itself in about 30 minutes.