Plastic power source invented

Boffins from the Imperial College in London have developed a new plastic polymer which could replace batteries as we know them.

The €3.4 million project has discovered a new type of plastic which is capable of holding and discharging an electrical charge in much the same way as a traditional chemical battery.

The inventors say that they material is strong enough and light enough to be used as components like wheel arches, roof panels and bonnets in cars, so the leap to laptop cases is not a huge one.

Dr Emile Greenhaigh, the project's coordinator said, "We are really excited about the potential of this new technology. We think the car of the future could be drawing power from its roof, its bonnet or even the door, thanks to our new composite material.

"Even the Sat Nav could be powered by its own casing," she burbled. "The future applications for this material don’t stop there – you might have a mobile phone that is as thin as a credit card because it no longer needs a bulky battery, or a laptop that can draw energy from its casing so it can run for a longer time without recharging. We’re at the first stage of this project and there is a long way to go, but we think our composite material shows real promise."

The three-year project is indeed in its early stages. In fact, the best the team has managed is to light a standard LED for a few seconds from a charge of a few minutes. But the implications for the future of gadgetry in general and portable computing in particular are very compelling.

Fancy a flexible touchscreen device with an ultra-thin OLED display which doubles up as the power source, and lasts for day on single charge? We'd buy one for down the pub.