Researchers thin down lithium-ion batteries for dental braces

November 17, 2017 // By Julien Happich
In a paper titled "Flexible and biocompatible high-performance solid-state micro-battery for implantable orthodontic system" published in the npj Flexible Electronics journal, researchers from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) describe how they have thinned down a silicon-backed lithium-ion battery to just 30µm.

For their 2.25×1.7mm chip-scale flexible lithium-ion battery, they report an energy density of 200mWh/cm3 for a microcell weighing only 236µg. Because the cells are so thin, they withstand a bending radius of 1mm and could conform to the inside curvature of the dental arch when embedded into a dental brace.

The general idea here is to boost the efficacy of dental braces by combining orthodontics with phototherapy, speeding up the process of bone regeneration for tooth correction, cutting therapy time and overall costs.

The researchers note that new advances in panoramic X-ray imaging, intra-oral imaging scanners and biocompatible dental materials now allow to digitize the manufacture of personalized dental braces. This means a better and slimmer fit which could embed near infrared LED arrays for non-invasive oral phototherapy. To date, only bulky external equipment are available, with a programmable controller and an external power supply or battery. Often limiting battery integration is their form factor, due to a rigid encapsulation ensuring proper insulation from corrosive toxic materials.

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