A billion holes can make a battery

November 10, 2014
A billion nanopores could fit on a postage stamp. Credit: NEES, a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center

Researchers at the University of Maryland have invented a single tiny structure that includes all the components of a battery that they say could bring about the ultimate miniaturization of energy storage components.

The structure is called a : a tiny hole in a ceramic sheet that holds electrolyte to carry the between nanotube electrodes at either end. The existing device is a test, but the bitsy battery performs well. First author Chanyuan Liu, a graduate student in & engineering, says that it can be fully charged in 12 minutes, and it can be recharged thousands of time.

A team of UMD chemists and materials scientists collaborated on the project: Gary Rubloff , director of the Maryland NanoCenter and a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and in the Institute for Systems Research; Sang Bok Lee, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemisty and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering; and seven of their Ph.D. students (two now graduated).

Many millions of these nanopores can be crammed into one larger battery the size of a postage stamp. One of the reasons the researchers think this unit is so successful is because each nanopore is shaped just like the others, which allows them to pack the tiny thin batteries together efficiently. Coauthor Eleanor Gillette's modeling shows that the unique design of the nanopore battery is responsible for its success.

The space inside the holes is so small that the space they take up, all added together, would be no more than a grain of sand.

Now that the scientists have the battery working and have demonstrated the concept, they have also identified improvements that could make the next version 10 times more powerful. The next step to commercialization: the inventors have conceived strategies for manufacturing the in large batches.

The video will load shortly

Each end of the tiny pore is treated to add nanotubes that collect the electrical charge conducted by the liquid electrolyte filling the pore. Credit: NEES, a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center

Explore further: Silicon sponge improves lithium-ion battery performance

More information: "An all-in-one nanopore battery array," Nature Nanotechnology (2014), Chanyuan Liu, Eleanor I. Gillette, Xinyi Chen, Alexander J. Pearse, Alexander C. Kozen, Marshall A. Schroeder, Keith E. Gregorczyk, Sang Bok Lee and Gary W. Rubloff: DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2014.247

Related Stories

Study sheds new light on why batteries go bad

September 14, 2014

A comprehensive look at how tiny particles in a lithium ion battery electrode behave shows that rapid-charging the battery and using it to do high-power, rapidly draining work may not be as damaging as researchers had thought ...

Developing the battery of the future

October 30, 2014

The search for the next generation of batteries has led researchers at the Canadian Light Source synchrotron to try new methods and materials that could lead to the development of safer, cheaper, more powerful, and longer-lasting ...

Recommended for you

Nano-watermark sorts fakes from genuines

June 27, 2016

Nanoga, an EPFL-based startup, has developed a technique to put a nanoscopic watermark onto glass or ceramic. Products with this watermark, which is invisible to the naked eye and only shows up under ultraviolet light, are ...

21 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gkam
3.4 / 5 (14) Nov 10, 2014
Another stake in the heart of fossil fuels, and another step to the future.
Sonhouse
4.3 / 5 (12) Nov 10, 2014
They talk about this itsy bitsy battery but how much itsy bitsy voltage and itsy bitsy current does it provide and for how long?
gkam
1.8 / 5 (13) Nov 10, 2014
Apparently the previous poster does not understand the implications of this advancement. Or is afraid of renewables, perhaps?

Flow batteries and these kinds of advancements in storage will doom dirty fuels.
SciTechdude
4.6 / 5 (9) Nov 10, 2014
He does raise a valid point, it's only an innovation if it's more efficient and easier to produce.
bigmuddie2001
4.7 / 5 (3) Nov 10, 2014
I would like to see a larger model. I wonder about the storage capacity a recharge times. These will all be answered in the next few years.
JoeBlue
2.3 / 5 (4) Nov 10, 2014
Let's see a working example before anyone gets excited eh?
baudrunner
1 / 5 (3) Nov 10, 2014
Funny about that. I've been thinking for the last couple of weeks on the possibility of introducing nanopores in the unused real estate of large scale IC's to facilitate cooling. You know what they say, "There is no such a thing as a coincidence".
gkam
2.7 / 5 (7) Nov 10, 2014
"Let's see a working example before anyone gets excited eh?"

Sounds like cold fusion?

This has been demonstrated and is reproducible.
justindadswell
1 / 5 (1) Nov 10, 2014
Here's what I am thinking.
http://phys.org/n...ity.html
To capture energy from say a construction worker swinging his hammer or walking around.
Stitch these little batteries into your clothes and on cold days when the construction worker stops for lunch, the batteries could supply warmth with all the stored energy.

(I sort of hate long 10F- winter days...)
JoeBlue
1 / 5 (2) Nov 10, 2014
^^ Sure the batteries are strapped to him, but how are you charging those tiny little batteries?

"Let's see a working example before anyone gets excited eh?"

Sounds like cold fusion?

This has been demonstrated and is reproducible.


Sure it is, that's why there are fusion plants everywhere and the world has stopped using coal..
rocket77777
2 / 5 (2) Nov 10, 2014
Billions of holes were used as memory for DRAM to store charge lol.
antialias_physorg
4.4 / 5 (7) Nov 11, 2014
They talk about this itsy bitsy battery but how much itsy bitsy voltage and itsy bitsy current does it provide and for how long?

Follow the itsy bitsy link at the bottom of the article and all your questions will be answered.

From the images provided with the abstract you can see that about 120mAh/g is a reasonable figure for what they have (for comparions: Lithium batteries about 170 mAh/g...charged graphite sheet about 370mAh/g)

That's not bad for an unoptimized lab prototype. Not bad at all.
daggaz
4.4 / 5 (7) Nov 11, 2014
Another stake in the heart of fossil fuels, and another step to the future.

You still have to charge the battery. Its energy storage, not energy production.
Eikka
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 11, 2014
Apparently the previous poster does not understand the implications of this advancement. Or is afraid of renewables, perhaps?


You're preaching again.

This has been demonstrated and is reproducible.


Yes, but exactly what has been demostrated is yet unknown.

What is the energy density, how cheap is it? What materials does it require? How long until it can be mass-manufactured? There's scant little information in the article. There's one of these kind of articles once a month, so calling it done before it's done is a fool's job.

Eikka
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 11, 2014
From the images provided with the abstract you can see that about 120mAh/g is a reasonable figure for what they have (for comparions: Lithium batteries about 170 mAh/g...charged graphite sheet about 370mAh/g)

That's not bad for an unoptimized lab prototype. Not bad at all.


Whether it's good or bad also depends on the cell voltage and how cheap it is to manufacture. The graphs show voltages for half-cells in some weird "vs. lithium" way, but the abstract seems to say that the maximum voltage for the full battery is 1.8 Volts, which is not much.

The materials used seem to be Vanadium and Ruthenium, which aren't exactly cheap or plentiful. The production of Ruthenium is about 20 tons a year in the whole world, so large scale manufacture seems impossible. It's rarer than platinum.

DistortedSignature
5 / 5 (2) Nov 11, 2014
What is the energy density, how cheap is it? What materials does it require? How long until it can be mass-manufactured?


These articles usually have a source referring to the topic... I wonder if there's any information there? Why not read the comments and at least the abstract, then maybe some of your questions won't seem to be ignorant.

With the internet you hear about each advancement of field no matter how small. While this might seem inconsequential to some, it's all these small steps that'll lead to discoveries and practicalities that'll have an impact in everyday life.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Nov 11, 2014
You still have to charge the battery. Its energy storage, not energy production

Energy production is not what's holding renewables back (they have no problem generating enough power). Storage is. So this is one of many research projects that try to address this issue.

What is the energy density

Follow the link.

What materials does it require?

Follow the link.

...how cheap is it?...How long until it can be mass-manufactured?

You don't seriously expect an answer to that in a research article, do you? But they seem to have an idea how to go about it already:
From the article: "The next step to commercialization: the inventors have conceived strategies for manufacturing the battery in large batches."

As to how cheap: That's more of an issue with production methods than raw materials.
Eikka
4.2 / 5 (5) Nov 11, 2014
You don't seriously expect an answer to that in a research article, do you?


No. But in the context of gkam going bananas for a news article of another unsubstantiated new technology, it's apt to point out that there isn't yet a roadmap to production. All those questions were related to that point.

As to how cheap: That's more of an issue with production methods than raw materials.


I did follow the links, and as I already pointed out, the battery is using Ruthenium which is so rare that it's hard to believe any large volume manufacturing is possible. For specialist applications, maybe, but not for everyday objects like cellphones and cars.

Think about it this way: 12 tons are dug up every year. If one kilowatt-hour requires even one gram of Ruthenium, you can only produce about 12 MWh worth of batteries a year with all the world's supply, which is about enough for 140 Tesla cars.

But the supply is so limited that the price would be astronomical.
Eikka
3 / 5 (2) Nov 16, 2014
. If one kilowatt-hour requires even one gram of Ruthenium, you can only produce about 12 MWh worth of batteries a year with all the world's supply, which is about enough for 140 Tesla cars.


There's an error of magnitude there. The actual numbers are 12 GWh and 140 000 Tesla cars per year.

You can still compare that to the number of cars produced, which is about 60 million a year. Those Teslas would represent 0.23% of the production.
teslaberry
not rated yet Nov 16, 2014
the key to micro energy systems is to pair micro-batteries with micro-scavenging ambient energy machines ---essentially thermal, radio, and vibrational absorbing micromachines that can produce a micro-voltage.

put the two together and you have a system for continuously powering embedded sensors and microchips anywhere and everywhere.....
metanoic
not rated yet Nov 24, 2014
Does seeing the way this battery functions remind anyone else of the general setup of most all prehistory pyramid sites as well as Tesla's Wardenclyffe Tower ?

These ancient pyramid sites (all around the world) were built on top of limestone, which water flowed through and subsequently created electrical potential. Similar to this battery. It's my understanding Wardenclyffe was also specifically built above a large limestone deposit.

You can obtain your negative electrode by grounding deep into the earth. Both the pyramid builders and Tesla did this.

What's making me curious is how do you get your 'positive electrode' to release electrical potential in the limestone/earth below ?

Tesla had complex and impressive technological design plans for his Wardenclyffe device but at the same time I can't help but wonder if the ancients knew a simpler way ?

The field energy disturbed by the shape (3:4:5 pyramid) allows the object itself to act as a giant positive electrode???

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.