Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

An ’AAAAAAAAA’ battery? UF researchers make progress on tiny cell

10.10.2002


It would send and receive faxes and video and have the processing power of a personal computer. The cell phone of the future would be on the market today but for one hitch: the battery.



The technology is available to build cell phones that would make the latest versions -- those that allow users to send pictures and play video games -- seem almost primitive. But the batteries now used in cell phones are not nearly powerful enough to drive all the fancy add-ons, said Charles Martin, a University of Florida chemistry professor. Laptop computers, video cameras and digital cameras also are hobbled by today’s power storage technology. Meanwhile, tiny machines being developed for a variety of purposes -- such as "lab-on-a-chip" devices that sense airborne chemical or biological pathogens -- will require batteries many times smaller and more powerful than today’s smallest batteries.

So Martin and his team are making progress on a new approach: Batteries inspired by the emerging field of nanotechnology. The research could both improve the small batteries used in portable electronics and lead to truly miniscule power packs for so called "microelectromechanical" machines, or MEMS, devices. In the first year of a five-year collaborative effort with three other institutions funded by a $5 million grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research, the research is showing progress toward its goal of creating a three-dimensional, millimeter-sized battery – considerably smaller than the centimeter-sized hearing aid batteries that are the smallest batteries on the market today.


All batteries consist of two electrodes, an anode and a cathode, and an electrolyte solution. UF researchers have created both nano-anodes and nano-cathodes, or anodes and cathodes measured on the scale of billionths of a meter. They’ve shown in tests that these electrodes are as much as 100 times more powerful than traditional ones.

The electrodes also have a unique and promising structure.

"The UF progress is very significant," said Bruce Dunn, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of California-Los Angeles, the lead institution in the project. "(Martin’s) work, the fabrication and testing of nano-dimensional cathodes and anodes, represents the key elements of his concentric tube battery approach, which represents a novel three-dimensional configuration."

Martin and his colleagues create the nano-electrodes using a technique he pioneered called template synthesis. This involves filling millions of tiny "nanoscopic" holes in a centimeter-sized plastic or ceramic template with a solution that contains the chemical components that make up the electrode. After the solution hardens, the researchers remove the template, leaving only the electrodes. The next challenge is to find a way to put together the nano-anode and nano-cathode with a nano-electrolyte and other components.

"We’ve proposed a totally new design for a battery where all the components are nanomaterials, and we have succeeded in making nearly all of these components," Martin said. "We have not yet developed the technologies to assemble these components, and that’s what we’re working on."

Robbie Sides, a UF doctoral student in chemistry and one of the researchers in Martin’s lab, said UF’s nano-anodes and nano-cathodes are not only more powerful than traditional ones, they’re also hardier. Lithium-ion battery electrodes might sustain an average of 500 charges and discharges before wearing out, he said. In tests done by another UF chemistry doctoral student on Martin’s team, the nano-electrodes sustained as many as 1,400 charges.

The new technology could improve cell phones and other portable electronics, which use lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are made of composites of small particles. Their ability to produce power depends on lithium ions diffusing throughout these particles. While microscopic, the particles are large enough to be measured in microns, or millionths of a meter. The nano-battery approach seeks to replace these particles with particles measured in billionths of a meter, which would enhance power storage and production because the lithium ions would have less distance to travel as they diffuse.

Micro-batteries also could power tiny pumps or presses in MEMS devices. Researchers already have developed or are working on a plethora of uses for such machines, including tiny switches or environmental sensors. As Sides pointed out, however, it doesn’t make much sense to make the device tiny unless there is a power source to match.

"If you have a circuit the size of a pinhead and you need a battery the size of a triple A that you get from the store, then it (the circuit) won’t be useful," he said.


The U.S. Department of Energy has funded much of the UF basic science research on nanobatteries. Aside from UF and UCLA, the other participants in the Office of Naval Research project are the University of Utah and the Naval Research Laboratory. Each institution is working on a different approach to creating batteries made of nanoscale materials, efforts Martin predicts could result in a prototype device within three years

Aaron Hoover | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ufl.edu/

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Did you know that infrared heat and UV light contribute to the success of your barbecue?
26.07.2017 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH

nachricht Ultrathin device harvests electricity from human motion
24.07.2017 | Vanderbilt University

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property

26.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Molecular microscopy illuminates molecular motor motion

26.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Large-Mouthed Fish Was Top Predator After Mass Extinction

26.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>