Researchers at Rice University have developed a "paintable" lithium-ion battery that could help improve the design and weight of electric vehicles.

The researchers have developed a battery that can be spray-painted in layers on virtually any surface. Each layer represents a traditional battery component.

The technology "allows all kinds of new design and integration possiblities for storage devices," said Pulickel Ajayan, a mechanical engineering and materials science professor at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

"There has been a lot of interest in recent times in creating power sources with an improved form factor and this is a big step forward in that direction," he added in a press release.

The researchers found that their hand-painted prototype batteries were consistent in their capacities and stayed within 10 pc of the target set. In addition, they showed only a very small drop in capacity when put through 60 charge-discharge cycles.

Neelam Singh, a Rice graduate student involved in the project, said the hand-painted batteries can be much improved if a modern production process is adopted. Said Singh: "Spray painting is already an industrial process, so it would be very easy to incorporate this into industry."