The mad scientists in question spray-painted, air-brushed and hand-painted materials that make up a traditional battery onto surfaces such as bathroom tile, glass, steel and, heck, beer steins, all for the sake of getting that electrical charge.
The details involve nanotubes, carbon black particles, cathodes, graphite powder and a bunch of other materials sure to please anyone who had an easier time passing 10th-grade chemistry than this reporter (read more about it here, and check out the video here). Some of the batteries were even charged by solar cells, giving the rare opportunity for hippies and graffiti artists to unite for the common cause.
The Rice scientists have filed for a patent on the process, and for good reason. Check out an explanatory video below.