Smaller, faster, better: Nanoscale batteries may power future technology
Inside modern cell phones are billions of nanoscale switches that flip on and off, allowing the phone to function. These switches, called transistors, are controlled by an electrical signal that is delivered via a single battery. This configuration of one battery to power multiple components works well for today’s technologies, but there is room for improvement. Each time a signal is piped from the battery to a component, some power is lost on the journey. Coupling each component with its own battery would be a much better setup, minimizing energy loss and maximizing battery life. However, in the current tech world, batteries are not small enough to permit this arrangement — at least not yet.
Now, MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering have made headway in developing nanoscale hydrogen batteries that use water-splitting technology. With these batteries, the researchers aim to deliver a faster charge, longer life, and less wasted energy. In addition, the batteries are relatively easy to fabricate at room temperature and adapt physically to unique structural needs.
“Batteries are one of the biggest problems we’re running into at the Laboratory,” says Raoul Ouedraogo, who is from Lincoln Laboratory’s Advanced Sensors and Techniques Group and is the project’s principal investigator. “There is significant interest in highly miniaturized sensors going all the way down to the size of a human hair. We could make those types of sensors, but good luck finding a battery that small. Current batteries can be round like coin cells, shaped like a tube, or thin but on a centimeter scale. If we have the capability to lay our own batteries to any shape or geometry and in a cheap way, it opens doors to a whole lot of applications.”
The battery gains its charge by interacting with water molecules present in the surrounding air. When a water molecule comes in contact with the reactive, outer metal section of the battery, it is split into its constituent parts — one molecule of oxygen and two of hydrogen. The hydrogen molecules become trapped inside the battery and can be stored until they are ready to be used. In this state, the battery is “charged.” To release the charge, the reaction reverses. The hydrogen molecules move back through the reactive metal section of the battery and combine with oxygen in the surrounding air.
So far, the researchers have built batteries that are 50 nanometers thick — thinner than a strand of human hair. They have also demonstrated that the area of the batteries can be scaled from as large as centimeters to as small as nanometers. This scaling ability allows the batteries to be easily integrated near transistors at a nano- and micro-level, or near components and sensors at the millimeter- and centimeter-level.
“A useful feature of this technology is that the oxide and metal layers can be patterned very easily into nanometer-scale custom geometries, making it straightforward to build intricate battery patterns for a particular application or to deposit them on flexible substrates,” says Annie Weathers, a staff member of the laboratory’s Chemical, Microsystem, and Nanoscale Technologies Group, who is also involved in the project.
The batteries have also demonstrated a power density that is two orders of magnitude greater than most currently used batteries. A higher power density means more power output per the volume of the battery.
“What I think made this project work is the fact that none of us are battery people,” says Ouedraogo. “Sometimes it takes somebody from the outside to see new things.”
Currently, water-splitting techniques are used to generate hydrogen for large-scale industrial needs. This project will be the first to apply the technique for creating batteries, and at much smaller scales.
The project was funded via Lincoln Laboratory’s Technology Office Energy Initiative and has entered into phase two of development, which includes optimizing the batteries further and integrating them with sensors.
The Latest on: Nanoscale hydrogen batteries
via Google News
The Latest on: Nanoscale hydrogen batteries
- Electrons caught in the acton January 21, 2021 at 8:37 am
Tsukuba, Japan - A team of researchers from the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences at the University of Tsukuba filmed the ultrafast motion of electrons with sub-nanoscale spatial resolution.
- BioSolar Expands Green Hydrogen Technology Focuson January 19, 2021 at 1:52 am
The main challenge and reason that humans do not utilize Green Hydrogen everywhere today is ... "The UCLA team has extensive experience in nanoscale materials and nanotechnology to impact a ...
- BioSolar Announces Research Program to Develop Green Hydrogen Technologyon January 12, 2021 at 9:00 pm
“While we embark on this new program in the high growth category of hydrogen production, we remain committed to our existing battery technology development program with the focus of ...
- TEDTalks: Environment: Project Makeoveron January 12, 2021 at 3:59 pm
Episode 15 - Angela Belcher: Using Nature to Grow ... Inspired by an abalone shell, Angela Belcher programs viruses to make nanoscale structures for use in batteries, clean hydrogen fuels and solar ...
- Researchers grow nanofilms superflaton January 4, 2021 at 4:00 pm
That's why researchers at the DOE's Ames Laboratory are studying the processes that control how custom-made nanoscale materials ... extinguishers to lithium-ion batteries, but that could expand ...
- Magnetic "handedness" could improve memoryon January 4, 2021 at 4:00 pm
Chirality — a spiral-like "handedness" — in nanoscale magnets may play a crucial ... ranging from fire extinguishers to lithium-ion batteries, but that could expand if its price came down ...
- Nano Batteries Powered By Hydrogenon December 22, 2020 at 4:00 pm
The MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering are developing nanoscale hydrogen batteries that use water-splitting technology. The goal is to deliver, “a ...
- BioSolar, Inc. (BSRC)on May 2, 2020 at 7:56 pm
Dr. Huang, the recipient of numerous awards and global recognition, is leading a team that is creating methodologies to apply the latest developments in nanoscale ... category of hydrogen production, ...
via Bing News