The World’s Smallest Battery

World's Smallest Battery


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.


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How to Make Your Own Pinball Game


Pinball machines are some of the oldest arcade games in history. Dating back to the mid 1600s these games have evolved into the light flashing, ball bumping game we know today. The origins of pinball are intertwined with the history of many other games.


Games played outdoors by rolling balls or stones on a grass course, as in the case of bocce or bowls, eventually evolved into various local ground billiards games played by hitting the balls with sticks and propelling them at targets, often around obstacles.


In this experiment, we will build a pinball game where sticks hit a Ping Pong ball into a cup that buzzes when the ball hits it.


Materials Needed:


  • Sticks or pencils to use as a flipper
  • Battery, either a 9 V and connector or AA and holder
  • Buzzer
  • Paper clips
  • Scissors
  • Aluminum foil
  • Wire Strippers
  • Shallow box
  • Duct tape
  • 4 oz. Paper cup
  • Ping Pong ball
  • 22-gauge stranded hook-up wire




Connect the leads of the battery holder and buzzer. Put the buzzer in the bottom of the cup with a hole in the bottom, so you can run the wires out to the battery holder.


Wrap the Ping Pong ball in a sheet of foil. Smooth it out so that the ball can roll freely when in play.


Next design a pinball machine table top on the shallow box. At one end, cut a hole for the cup to fit into. Set the cup, flush with the bottom of the box so the ball can roll into it unobstructed.

Add in obstacles and tubes to make play more interesting. The circuit is completed on the buzzer when the ball, wrapped in foil touches it, making it buzz.

Alarm System Batteries

Your alarm system battery supplies your home alarm with the backup power it requires to operate the system during a power outage. Most alarm panels operate on 12-volts, and use one of the few different sizes of sealed lead-acid battery.


A security alarm battery drops to about 80% or less of its original rated capacity after 3-5 years of service. This means that the battery may not have enough power to run the security system for very long in the event of a power failure.


Signs you need a new battery

The first sign of an alarm battery failure is usually a beeping keypad. This beeping or chirping will usually occur at the same time every day, or night, because many panels do their automatic battery test at the same time every 24 hours. Less commonly, a low battery can trigger a false alarm at random times of the day or night.


Also, almost all alarm panels will display a keypad warning light to indicate a problem with the system. Keypads with LCD displays will provide a print out “low batt”, “LB” or something similar, to let you know that your system’s battery needs replacing. Keypads with LEDs may require you to press a button for the lights to show what the problem is with the system. Refer to your security system’s manual to find out how to read the system’s trouble codes.


All of UPS Battery Center’s home alarm batteries are high quality rechargeable lead-acid batteries that are designed to provide excellent performance, durability and long life to ensure your security system works when you need it most.


Our alarm batteries are all brand new and arrive fully charged and ready to be installed in your alarm system. There is no need to charge them prior to installation. Please consult your security system owner’s manual before replacing the battery in your system. A call may need to be made to the alarm company to let them know that you plan to replace the battery for some systems.


UPS Battery Center’s alarm batteries are covered by our industry leading 1 year replacement warranty. Also available is our extended warranty of up to 3 years. Our warranty is the only one of its kind in the industry that includes shipping costs and is completely hassle free.


Make Your Own Hydrogen Fuel Cell

A fuel cell is a cell that produces an electric current directly from a chemical reaction.

hydrogen fuel cell is capable of producing electricity without any pollution because the only byproduct is pure water.


Hydrogen fuel cells are the most common, used in spacecraft and other areas where there is a specific need for a clean and efficient power source is needed. We will show you how you can make a hydrogen fuel cell yourself in about 10 minutes. When finished you will be able to show how hydrogen and oxygen can combine to produce clean electricity.


Items needed:


  • One foot of platinum coated nickel wire, or pure platinum wire
  • A popsicle stick or similar sized piece of wood or plastic
  • A 9 volt battery clip
  • A 9 volt battery
  • Transparent scotch tape
  • A glass of water
  • A volt meter


Cell Creation

First, cut the platinum wire into two six inch long pieces, and wind each piece into a little coil which will serve as the electrodes in your fuel cell. You can use a nail, ice pick or a coat hanger to form your coils.


Next, cut the leads of the battery clip in half and strip the insulation off the ends. When this is done, twist the ends of the bare wires onto the electrodes. Attach a positive wire from the battery clip and the positive cut wire to one electrode and do the same with the negative wires to the other electrode. The loose wires will be used later to connect to the volt meter.


Tape the electrodes securely to the popsicle stick, and then tape the popsicle stick securely to the glass of water. The electrodes should be almost completely submerged in the water.


Next, connect the red wire to the positive terminal of the voltmeter and the black wire to the negative terminal of the voltmeter. The voltmeter should read 0 volts, however, it may also read a small amount, such as 0.01 volts.


Fuel Cell Operation

Now that your fuel cell is complete to operate it you will need to cause bubbles of hydrogen to cling to one electrode, while oxygen bubbles cling to the other electrode. To do this, you simply touch the 9 volt battery to the battery clip. There is no need to actually clip the battery in place because it will only be needed for a second or two.


Touching the battery to the clip causes a process called electrolysis, which is when the hydrogen and oxygen in the water split and their bubbles form at the electrodes while the battery is attached.


When you remove the battery, if you weren’t using a platinum coated wire, you would expect to see the voltmeter read zero volts again because there is no longer the battery connected to it. However, in this case the platinum acts as a catalyst, allowing the hydrogen and oxygen to recombine.


The hydrolysis reaction reverses. The hydrogen and oxygen recombine to make water again and produce electricity.


In the beginning you will get a little over two volts from the fuel cell, as the bubbles pop and dissolve in the water or are used up by the reaction, the voltage drops, at first quickly, and then more slowly.

After a few minutes, the voltage declines a lot slower, because most of the recent decline is due to the gasses being used up in the reaction that produces the electricity.

Bio-Batteries, A Step Closer to Clean Energy



Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) are a step closer to enhancing the generation of clean energy from bacteria.


A recently published report shows how electrons hop across otherwise electrically insulating areas of bacterial proteins, and that the rate of electron transfer is dependent on the orientation and proximity of electrically conductive ‘stepping stones’.


The hope is that this natural process can be used to improve ‘bio batteries’ which may be used to produce energy for portable technology such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops, powered by human or animal waste.


Unlike humans, many microorganisms can, survive without oxygen. Some bacteria survive by ‘breathing rocks’, especially minerals or iron. They derive their energy from the combustion of fuel molecules that have been taken into the cell’s interior.


A side product of this reaction is a flow of electricity that can be directed across the bacterial outer membrane and delivered to rocks in the natural environment, or graphite electrodes in fuel cells.


This means that the bacteria can release the electrical charge from inside the cell into the mineral, much like the neutral wire in a household plug.


The researchers looked at proteins called ‘multi-haem cytochromes’ contained in ‘rock breathing’ bacteria such as species of Shewanella.


Lead researcher Professor Julea Butt, from UEA’s School of Chemistry and School of Biological Sciences, said, “These bacteria can generate electricity in the right environment.”


“We wanted to know more about how the bacterial cells transfer electrical charge — and particularly how they move electrons from the inside to the outside of a cell over distances of up to tens of nanometers.


“Proteins conduct electricity by positioning metal centres — known as haems — to act in a similar way to stepping stones by allowing electrons to hop through an otherwise electrically insulating structure. This research shows that these centres should be considered as discs that the electrons hop across.


“The relative orientation of neighboring centres, in addition to their proximity, affects the rates that electrons move through the proteins.


“This is an exciting advance in our understanding of how some bacterial species move electrons from the inside to the outside of a cell and helps us understand their behavior as robust electron transfer modules.


“We hope that understanding how this natural process works will inspire the design of bespoke proteins which will underpin microbial fuel cells for sustainable energy production.”


The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and performed in collaboration with researchers at University College London, UK and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, USA.


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Child Proof Batteries



A Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) led team has developed a simple “coat of armor” to encase small batteries, making them harmless if they are swallowed. Children, mainly infants and young toddlers, can ingest small batteries, leading to serious damage to their esophagus as well as other stomach tissue, sometimes even leading to death.


These incidents are on the rise. However, up until now, there haven’t been any solutions that were directed to the batteries themselves. The new work, published online November 3, 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offers a simple, cost-effective solution, that, if implemented, could dramatically reduce if not eliminate, this unfortunate problem.


“To date, there has been no innovation to address this issue with small batteries,” says Jeff Karp, PhD, BWH Division of Biomedical Engineering in the Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Harvard Stem Cell Institute. “To address this challenge we sought to develop something that would render the battery inert, specifically when it was outside of a device.”


Roughly 5 billion “button” batteries are produced, each year, worldwide. These small, disc shaped batteries, power everything from children’s toys, hearing aids and laser pointers to remote controls and musical greeting cards.


While recent legislation requires battery compartments in children’s toys to be secured with screws, many items commonly used by adults contain these batteries in easily accessible formats and their packaging provides no protection.


With the increase of these devices, and the constant demand for more powerful batteries to power them, the problem of accidental ingestion is increasing. In 2013, there were more than 3,000 reported cases of accidental battery ingestion, the majority in children under the age of 6.


“Ingested disc batteries require emergent removal from the esophagus,” says co-first study author Giovanni Traverso, MB, BCh, PhD, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a researcher at MIT. “The swallowing of these batteries is a gastrointestinal emergency given that tissue damage starts as soon as the battery is in contact with the tissue, generating an electric current and leading to a chemical burn.”


Together with first author Bryan Laulicht, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Karp’s lab, Karp noticed that when a battery sits within a device, there is gentle pressure applied to it. However, when it is outside the device, this force doesn’t exist.


“We set out to create a specialized coating that could switch from an insulator to a conductor when subjected to pressure,” said Co-author Robert Langer, Institute Professor from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.


The scientists discovered this unique substance in an unlikely place, touch screens. Using an off-the-shelf material known as a quantum tunneling composite, they identified a nanoparticle-based coating that, when subjected to pressure, allows an electrical current to pass through. In contrast, it allows no current to run in the absence of such pressure.


The scientists used this material to coat one side of the batteries, covering the negative ends (anodes). To determine the coating’s effectiveness, they teamed up with Traverso, exposing coated and uncoated batteries to gut tissue both in a laboratory dish and in living animals. In all cases, the coated batteries didn’t cause any damage.

In addition to reducing injuries, the coating is likely to be inexpensive. “The ultimate cost will depend on the exact composition of the material that is used, but for our current formulation, we’re talking cents, not dollars,” says Laulicht, first author of the paper.


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Improving Battery Performance is as Simple as a Day at the Beach



Researchers at the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering have created a lithium ion battery that outperforms the current industry standard by three times, with the addition of common sand.


“This is the holy grail — a low cost, non-toxic, environmentally friendly way to produce high performance lithium ion battery anodes,” said Zachary Favors, a graduate student working with Cengiz and Mihri Ozkan, both engineering professors at UC Riverside.


The idea for the remarkable innovation came to Favors six months ago when he was relaxing on the beach after surfing in San Clemente, California. When he picked up some sand, took a close look at it and saw it was made up primarily of quartz, or silicon dioxide.


His research is centered on building better lithium ion batteries, primarily for personal electronics and electric vehicles. He is focused on the anode, or negative side of the battery. Graphite is the current standard material for the anode, however, as electronics have become more powerful graphite’s ability to be improved has been virtually tapped out.


Now researchers are focused on using silicon at the nanoscale, or billionths of a meter, level as a replacement for graphite. However, the problem with nanoscale silicon is that it degrades quickly and is hard to produce in large quantities.


So, Favors focused on solving both of these problems. He researched sand to find a spot in the United States where it was found with a high percentage of quartz, which took him to the Cedar Creek Reservoir, east of Dallas, where he grew up.


Loading up with sand, he came back to the lab at UC Riverside and milled it down to the nanometer scale, followed by a series of purification steps to change its color from brown to bright white, similar in color and texture to powdered sugar.


The next step was to grind salt and magnesium, both very common elements found dissolved in seawater into the purified quartz. The resulting powder was then heated. With the salt acting as a heat absorber, the magnesium worked to remove the oxygen from the quartz, resulting in pure silicon.


The pure nano-silicon had a surprising transformation. It formed in a very porous 3-D silicon sponge like consistency. This porosity has proved to be the key to improving the performance of the batteries built with the nano-silicon.

This improved performance could mean expanding the expected lifespan of silicon-based electric vehicle batteries up to 3 times or more of their current lifespan expectancy. This would be significant for consumers, considering replacement batteries cost thousands of dollars. For cell phones or tablets, it could mean having to recharge every three days, as opposed to every day.


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