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.

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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