On The Hunt For The Super-Small, Super-Powerful Battery
A team at the University of Illinois claims their design could lead to microbatteries that deliver the same power as normal-sized ones, as well as normal-sized batteries that are exponentially more powerful.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
Researchers at the University of Illinois say they have come up with a new way of making batteries that could change the way electronics and vehicles are powered. The key is in bringing the two battery electrodes -- the anode and the cathode -- closer together at a very tiny scale. Project leader William King says, "[They] have small intertwined fingers that reach into each other. It allows us to make the battery have a very high surface area even though the overall battery volume is extremely small. And it gets the two halves of the battery very close together" so that the energy produced can come out much faster.
What's the Big Idea?
All types of electronics have benefited from smaller-scale technology, but battery design is still playing catch-up, and the Illinois team is just one of several that are trying to close the gap. They say their version would allow the development of smaller batteries that provide the same amount of power but recharge much faster. Additionally, a normal-sized battery built using their technology would produce much larger amounts of power. There are still some significant barriers between the lab and the market, one of which involves avoiding the same risk of fire that doomed the batteries used on Boeing's Dreamliner jets some months back.
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Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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