Batteries smaller than a grain of salt

Oct 19, 2010

Lithium-ion batteries have become ubiquitous in today's consumer electronics -- powering our laptops, phones, and iPods. Research funded by DARPA is pushing the limits of this technology and trying to create some of the tiniest batteries on Earth, the largest of which would be no bigger than a grain of sand.

These tiny energy storage devices could one day be used to power the electronics and mechanical components of tiny micro- to nano-scale devices.

Jane Chang, an engineer at the University of California, Los Angeles, is designing one component of these batteries: the that allows charge to flow between electrodes. She presents her results today at the AVS 57th International Symposium & Exhibition, which takes place this week at the Albuquerque Convention Center in New Mexico.

"We're trying to achieve the same power densities, the same energy densities as traditional lithium ion batteries, but we need to make the footprint much smaller," says Chang.

To reach this goal, Chang is thinking in three dimensions in collaboration with Bruce Dunn other researchers at UCLA. She's coating well-ordered micro-pillars or nano-wires -- fabricated to maximize the surface-to-volume ratio, and thus the potential energy density -- with electrolyte, the conductive material that allows current to flow in a battery.

Using atomic layer deposition -- a slow but precise process that allows layers of material only an atom thick to be sprayed on a surface -- she has successfully applied the solid electrolyte aluminosilicate to these nanomaterials.

The research is still in its early stages: other components of these 3D microbatteries, such as the , have also been developed, but they have yet to be assembled and integrated to make a functioning battery.

Explore further: Technique simplifies the creation of high-tech crystals

More information: The presentation, "Engineering LixAlySizO Thin Films as a Solid Electrolyte for 3D Microbatteries" is at 2:40 p.m. on Tuesday, October 19, 2010. ABSTRACT: www.avssymposium.org/Open/Sear… erNumber=EN+EM-TuA-3

Provided by American Institute of Physics

4.1 /5 (9 votes)

Related Stories

New Hitachi Li-ion batteries to last ten years

Apr 09, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Hitachi has announced they may be able to double the life of rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries through the development of a new cathode material. The material was developed in conjunction ...

Improved redox flow batteries for electric cars

Oct 13, 2009

A new type of redox flow battery presents a huge advantage for electric cars. If the rechargeable batteries are low, the discharged electrolyte fluid can simply be exchanged at the gas station for recharged ...

Recommended for you

Timely arrival of Pharao space clock

2 minutes ago

ESA has welcomed the arrival of Pharao, an important part of ESA's atomic clock experiment that will be attached to the International Space Station in 2016.

Physicists discuss quantum pigeonhole principle

Jul 26, 2014

The pigeonhole principle: "If you put three pigeons in two pigeonholes at least two of the pigeons end up in the same hole." So where's the argument? Physicists say there is an important argument. While the ...

First in-situ images of void collapse in explosives

Jul 25, 2014

While creating the first-ever images of explosives using an x-ray free electron laser in California, Los Alamos researchers and collaborators demonstrated a crucial diagnostic for studying how voids affect ...

User comments : 0