A self-destructing, lithium-ion battery from Iowa State University delivers 2.5 volts and dissolves or dissipates in 30 minutes when dropped in water.

Iowa State scientists have developed a working battery that dissolves and disperses in water. The battery is tiny; it’s about 1 mm thick, 5 mm long, and 6 mm wide.
(Credit: Ashley Christopherson)

“Unlike conventional electronics that are designed to last for extensive periods of time, a key and unique attribute of transient electronics is to operate over a typically short and well-defined period, and undergo fast and, ideally, complete self-deconstruction and vanish when transiency is triggered,” the scientists wrote in their paper.

The transient battery is made up of eight layers, including an anode, a cathode and the electrolyte separator, all wrapped up in two layers of a polyvinyl alcohol-based polymer. The battery itself is small – about 1 millimeter thick, 5 millimeters long and 6 millimeters wide.

When the battery is dropped into water, the polymer casing swells, breaks apart the electrodes, and dissolves away. The battery contains nanoparticles that disperse (and not degrade) as the battery’s casing breaks the electrodes apart.

The Iowa State technology could save patients the pain of removing a medical device.