Nanotechnology promises to enable tiny, intricate circuits powering devices on any surface. But unless they're harvesting energy from something like a heartbeat, the devices can only be as small as the smallest battery.
Now researchers at Rice University have combined the two, packing an entire lithium-ion battery into a single nanowire. The developers say it's as small as such a device can possibly get.
Researchers led by Rice professor Pulickel Ajayan built a hybrid energy storage device, which serves as a battery and a supercapacitor. The first version sandwiched an electrolyte between a nickel/tin anode and a cathode made of a polymer called polyaniline. The cathode also served as a supercapacitor, storing lithium ions in bulk, as this writeup by Rice University explains. The prototype proved that lithium ions would move through the electrolyte and into the cathode.
Then Ajayan and colleagues incorporated this structure into a single nanowire, through a complicated process of etching and chemical washing. The goal is to make nanowires with ultra-thin separation between electrodes, so the device can remain as small as possible.
The completed wire-batteries are about 50 microns tall, which is roughly the diameter of a human hair, according to Rice.
For now, they can only charge and discharge about 20 times before they die, but researchers are trying to optimize them to last longer. The research is published in the journal ACS Nano Letters.
this is really exciting news. can't wait to here about how far along they come with this technology! just think about all the uses
Self-charging supercapacitors? We could definitely have some fun with those!
What is never stated is how much power they can store. For instance if you could power X nano circuit for a year on one charge you wouldn't care it can only be charged 20 times. But it there is only enough power for 1 minute then you have a big problem.
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Good point, tcolguin. However, like most newer battery technologies, I expect that the power density and recharge durability will improve over time.
Compressed air is an excellent way to store energy and the storage devices. India is developing air power automobiles..... check it out.
Would have been nice if the article mentioned such important numbers wouldn't it?
Anyone can invent a new battery. I'm sure there are several combinations and permutations of fruit alone that have yet to be explored. Articles should be reserved for BETTER batteries.
Fine. It's small. Great. But is that it's only claim to fame? Is it also a better battery?
It would be nice if they displayed those numbers...but you are completely missing the point of this too...
The fact that they were able to create a nano battery of this architecture is amazing...so what if right now it cant power a 1W lightbulb....the fact is they were able to make this...now we have the technology and knowledge to press forward and make it better.
Saying articles should only be reserved for BETTER batteries is naive thing to say
If this battery nanotechnology will be successful, powering molecular or cell type nanos can help biological and medicine advancements.