Researchers at the University of Maryland have invented a single miniature structure that includes all the components of a battery which they say could be the beginning of the ultimate micro energy storage component.
The device, known as a nanopore, is a tiny hole in a ceramic sheet that holds electrolyte to carry the electrical charge between nanotube electrodes at either end. The existing device is a test, however, the itty bitty battery performs excellent, researchers say.
First author Chanyuan Liu, a graduate student in materials science & Engineering, says that it can be fully charged in 12 minutes, and it can be recharged thousands of times.
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 Biochemistry and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering; and seven of their Ph.D. students (two now graduated).
Several millions of these nanopores can be crammed into one larger battery the size of a postage stamp. One of the reasons the researchers believe the device is so successful is because each nanopore is shaped exactly the same, which allows them to pack the tiny thin batteries together efficiently. Co-author 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, it is no larger than a grain of sand.
Now that the scientists have the battery working and have demonstrated the concept, they have come up with improvements that could make the next version 10 times more powerful. The next step is to commercialize the battery, which the researchers have developed a plan to do just that in large quantities.