Micro-Battery Breakthrough

battery, illinois, breakthrough, anode, cathode, charge, cellphoneResearchers at the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign have engineered a new Li-Ion battery technology that is not only over 2000 times as powerful as a modern battery, but also significantly smaller.

Led by Mechanical Science and Engineering professor William P King, the researchers created a battery less than a centimeter across, but with enough power to jumpstart a dead car battery.

All modern electronics are plagued by a common problem – you can make a product as small as you like, but the batteries are still going to be huge. Professor King and his graduate student, James Pikul, changed that on April 16th when they published their new finding in Nature Communications.

According to Professor King, the new technology could revolutionize the way electronics are created. “This is a whole new way to think about batteries… In recent decades, electronics have gotten small. The thinking parts of computers have gotten small. And the battery has lagged far behind. This is a microtechnology that could change all of that.”

battery, illinois, breakthrough, anode, cathode, charge, cellphoneAnother complicating factor of battery technology has been the age old trade-off between power and energy. While one might justifiably be confused by the use of these two synonyms, the difference is simple: if you want a lot of power, you can only store a tiny amount of energy. If you need a lot of energy, it has to be low power. By redesigning the typical microbattery structure, the U of I group was able to “tune” their battery to accommodate both attributes.

You see, all batteries contain two key components, the anode (-) and the cathode (+). By creating a fast-charging anode that could be coupled with a previously designed fast-charging cathode, and creating a novel way to integrate the two components at an ultra-small scale, King and Pikul created what is now the world’s smallest and most powerful battery

The possible applications for the group’s new technology are nearly endless, but Professor King already has a few good ideas for the technology. “Consider personal medical devices and implants, where the battery is an enormous brick, and it’s connected to itty-bitty electronics and tiny wires. Now the battery is also tiny.” To that Pikul added “[this is] new enabling technology. It’s not a progressive improvement over previous technologies; it breaks the normal paradigms of energy sources. It’s allowing us to do different, new things.”

Source: University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign

Images Courtesy of the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign