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New 3D Microbattery Could Revolutionize Mobile Power

A team of researchers at the University of Illinois claims that by using 3D electrodes in “microbatteries”, battery units can be built that can be recharged 1000 times faster, and are much smaller but just as powerful.

“The most powerful batteries on the planet are only a few millimeters in size, yet they pack such a punch that a driver could use a cellphone powered by these batteries to jump-start a dead car battery – and then recharge the phone in the blink of an eye.” – University of Illinois

The new microbatteries has a so-called 3D structure, with “three-dimensional bicontinuous interdigitated microelectrodes” enabling the devices to have a large overall surface area in a much smaller space. This means that batteries built with this technology could be 10 times smaller, or 10 times as powerful at the same size, which could revolutionize the way devices are designed.

According to the team, with current battery technology, there is a trade-off between the power needs and energy needs of applications. For high powered applications, capacitors, which only store small amounts of energy, can rapidly release the energy needed, but for long-term energy output, batteries (which release and charge slowly) are used. But the new microbattery design is said to be both fast-charging/releasing and high capacity, providing the end user with the best of both worlds.

“This is a whole new way to think about batteries. A battery can deliver far more power than anybody ever thought. In recent decades, electronics have gotten small. The thinking parts of computers have gotten small. And the battery has lagged far behind. This is a microtechnology that could change all of that. Now the power source is as high-performance as the rest of it.” – William P. King, Bliss Professor of mechanical science and engineering

The results of the research were published at Nature Communications: High-power lithium ion microbatteries from interdigitated three-dimensional bicontinuous nanoporous electrodes

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