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Nano-sized Lithium-ion Batteries

Nano-sized Lithium-ion Batteries?

There’s been a run on lithium-ion battery news this week and the latest is from Popular Science which explored the technology surrounding lithium-ion batteries in nano-scale applications. Apparently new DARPA-funded research (sounds similar to the crazy hippie organization, the DARMA Initiative, from Lost) could revolutionize portable power supplies, leading to lithium-ion batteries that are smaller than a grain of salt. Can nano-sized lithium-ion batteries be the future of small device power?

Nano-sized Lithium-ion Batteries in Power Tools

How could this help power tools? We have no idea, but it’s incredibly cool nonetheless. Maybe someday batteries like this will allow us to use nano tools that will build a house out of synthetics simply by shaping them to a pre-conceived design or model. Or maybe we’ll create little robots that destroy the world by eating all known forms of metal… we just don’t know.

The work is taking place at the University of California in Los Angeles, and is headed by Jane Chang who is designing a tiny solid electrolyte that allows charge to flow between two nanoscale electrodes. We’re talking tiny… really tiny. The point is that the technology would allow these mini batteries to power micro-sized devices.

The difficulty isn’t in the theory, but the practical application of making it all work. The miniature-sized electrolyte is really just a series of nanowires coated with conductive material. To get the lithium aluminosilicate (say that five times fast) to “stick”, Chang is using atomic layer deposition method – one that is, unfortunately, really really slow. Once coated, the solid compound allows current to flow within the nano-battery. The nanowires are designed to have a high surface-to-volume ratio, making them more efficient.

Obviously this isn’t going to be headed to mass production anytime soon, but this is how all breakthroughs and new technology start. Once theory is worked out in practice, then great minds can get together and work on the challenges of process and mass-production (and, in this case, application).

Source: Popular Science

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