3d microbattery able to make a chip independent of external energy sources.

A group of researchers from the University of Illinois, combining methods of 3D-holographic lithography and conventional two-dimensional photolithography, created a microscopic but highly efficient battery. Miniature dimensions of created battery will allow to integrate it directly into chips of microelectronic devices, making these chips are absolutely independent of external sources of electric energy.

“Our 3D microbattery has exceptional electrical characteristics, and the technology of production of such batteries can be scaled to any size, so thanks to this, the batteries can be used in the widest range of areas,” – says Paul Brown, professor of the University of Illinois.

The researchers used a 3D-holographic lithography for creation of complex internal structure of the electrodes and with the help of two-dimensional photolithography was given the necessary external form. In this work, were used all the latest technologies of simulation and manufacturing, the totality of which gave high capacitance and energy storage density.

In the 3D-holographic lithography technology are used a few laser beams that are focused at particular points of the photosensitive material, creating microscopic structures of any complexity in the bulk material.

A large area of the electrode and its porous structure allows the rapid transfer of electric charges by means of electrons and ions. Moreover, carefully designed electrode grates prevent the accumulation of lithium ions near the one of the electrodes, which increases the reliability of its operation, that is, number of charge-discharge cycles in comparison with batteries having conventional graphite electrodes.

Prototypes of new 3D microbatteries which thickness is about 10 microns, and the area – 4 square millimeters, were capable of delivering 500 mA of current, maintaining conventional Light-emitting diode for 600 seconds of time. And after 200 charge-discharge cycles, the total capacity of the battery has decreased by only 12 percent.

“We have developed a method of producing of three-dimensional lithium-ion batteries, which is fully compatible with existing semiconductor technologies of chip manufacturing,” – said Hailong Ning, one of the scientists.

Artificial intelligence will help in the creation of safe lithium-ion batteries.

Many research groups from different countries, using a heavy and costly trial and error, spent a lot of years in search of a more secure alternative to liquid electrolytes used in today’s lithium-ion batteries. And recently, researchers from Stanford University have narrowed the range of the search for a suitable composition of the solid electrolyte from a few tens of thousands to just two dozen. And the artificial intelligence system, that has passed the pre-learning process and the subsequent self-learning, helped them in this.

“Lithium ions in the electrolyte are constantly moving between positive and negative battery electrodes,” – says Austin Sendek, a leading researcher – “Liquid electrolytes are cheap to produce and have excellent ion conductivity, however, they may catch fire because of the battery overheating“. It should be noted that the high flammability of lithium-ion batteries has led to the recall of nearly two million smartphones Samsung Galaxy Note7, the most widescale case in the history related with the inflammation of the lithium-ion batteries.

Solid electrolytes have more advantages than liquid electrolytes. Their main feature is a high stability, because the probability that the solid will evaporate, ignite or explode, much lower. Additionally, solid electrolytes are more durable from a mechanical point of view and the battery would be more durable.

As mentioned above, the amount of variants of solid lithium electrolyte composition is tens of thousands and scientists are exploring each of these compounds. To simplify this process, researchers from Stanford University have used an artificial intelligence system that has been trained on the data set, collected by scientists in the experiments. The analysis of these data allowed the system of artificial intelligence to develop a series of fairly complex criteria.

The creation of artificial intelligence systems has been quite a challenge, but an even more difficult task is preparation of database for training. Austin Sendek group took over two years to collect all known scientific information on this subject and its systematization.

As a result of all this titanic work, the artificial intellect system produced the analyzes of 12 thousand compositions of the solid lithium-containing electrolytes and left for further study 21 compositions. “The system took only a few minutes to make a full analysis of this” – says Austin Sendek, – “Much more time was spent on collecting all available data and the development of criteria by which was determined the quality of the test composition.”

And in the near future the researchers plan to perform laboratory testing of selected variants in order to choose the most suitable composition for practical application.

A new battery made of steel and brass.

Steel and brass according to experts are the most common metals that can always be found at the dump. So why are not to create based on them something useful for humanity, such as new cheap power source or battery. Such an idea occurred to the team of scientists from Vanderbilt University.

It is believed that the very first batteries were developed not earlier than the 19th century. But some historians believe that the first battery analogues appeared much earlier. Take, for example, found in 1930, the so-called “Baghdad battery”. It consists of a terracotta urns, copper sheet and the iron rod. Into the urn is supposed as an electrolyte was poured vinegar or wine. Just steel (iron) and brass (the metal is created on the basis of copper) in that scientists are interested.

Whether to use a found device to generate electricity or storage is not known, but it just inspired scientists from Vanderbilt University in the creation of a new battery made of steel and brass.

Scientists have collected the brass and iron scrap for the purity of the experiment right at the rubbish dump. Then, using the usual methods of household chemistry they were anodized – covered with a protective layer of oxide. As a result of such a simple conversion, the metals were able to accumulate on the surface a sufficiently large amount of electric charge, that is, they become suitable for use as electrodes in the battery.

Then researchers placed the treated metal into container and filled it with water-based electrolyte of potassium hydroxide. Its peculiarity is that the substance does not ignite and therefore safe for use in batteries.

A prototype of the new battery at the test trials showed very good electrical characteristics. For nominal voltage of 1.8 V, each battery cell had a specific energy density – 20 Wh / kg and density of electric power up to 20 kW / kg. What is similar to the parameters of automotive lead-acid batteries.

But the potential number of charge / discharge cycles (measured in laboratory conditions) was 5,000, which is equivalent to 13 years of intensive daily use. However, even after the five thousand cycles it should remain about 90% of its original capacity.

Now scientists are working on the creation of a full prototype, so they are not going to hide from the public the details of their invention, but rather they wish that the largest possible number of ordinary people have taken these batteries. At least to date, it is potentially the most accessible and cheapest battery.

New technology for the manganese-zinc batteries.

Scientists and researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have developed a technology that will help to make the zinc-manganese batteries more efficient and reliable.

Batteries based on manganese and zinc are quite promising, but until that time, engineers and scientists could not make them more succinct and long-lived. Although the first prototypes appeared in the 90s of the last century. To the advantages of this type of battery can be attributed to their ecological safety for the environment.

Now a team of scientists from PNNL finally managed to make zinc-manganese batteries more durable, and their specific capacity in the long term can be compared with lead-acid batteries. How do they do it?

As noted by researchers, the new technology was born through in-depth analysis of chemical and electrical processes occurring inside the battery. On the basis of these studies, scientists have found that in order to maintain efficiency in the manganese-zinc battery is only necessary to control the chemical balance of all occurring processes during the charging and discharging.

The mistake of the previous researches in this field was that scientists thought that processes in the manganese-zinc and lithium-ion batteries are identical. But, as it turned out it is not so. Work of manganese-zinc battery more close to the lead-acid battery – that is, the process of creating a directional flow of charged particles – it is not the flow of ions in the direction from one electrode to the other, but a reversible chemical reaction.

As a result of chemical reactions between the manganese oxide as the positive electrode and the water-containing electrolyte in which it is shipped, a new material – zinc hydroxide sulfate, which essentially serves the third (intermediate) electrode in the battery circuit. Because of it, the effectiveness of the battery is decreased.

To prevent this process, scientists have increased the concentration of manganese in the battery. And studies have shown that it worked. The specific capacity of the battery has increased to 285 mAh / g, and the number of possible charge / discharge cycles (the degree of survivability) to 5000.

However, the concentration of manganese is necessary to control all the time, so that the scientists are continuing their research in this area.

The principle of operation of chemical current sources.

For more than two centuries, humanity uses the energy of chemical reactions between different substances to produce a direct current.

Principle of operation.

The oxidation-reduction reaction occurs between the substances, having the properties of an oxidizer and a reducing agent, is accompanied by the release of electrons, whose motion constitutes an electric current. However, to use its energy, it is necessary to create conditions for the passage of electrons through the external circuit.

Therefore, all chemical sources have two electrodes:

an anode on which occurs oxidation;

a cathode performs the recovery of substance.

Electrodes are placed at a distance into container with an electrolyte – substance conducting electric current.

The principle of conversion of chemical energy into electrical energy.

The electrodes are placed in separate vessels connected by a salt bridge, through which is created the movement of ions by the internal circuit. When the outer and inner circuit are separated, on the electrodes occur two processes: the transition of ions from the metal of electrode into electrolyte and the transition of ions from electrolyte into the crystal lattice of the electrodes.

The rates of these processes are the same and on each electrode are accumulated the voltage potentials of opposite signs. If connect them through the salt bridge and attach the load – there is an electrical circuit. At the internal contour the electric current is generated by movement of ions between the electrodes through the electrolyte and salt bridge. At the external circuit occurs motion of the electrons in the direction from the anode to the cathode.

Almost all oxidation-reduction reactions are accompanied by electric power generation. However, its value depends on many factors including the volume and weight of used chemicals, the materials used for the manufacture of electrodes, the type of electrolyte, the ion concentration, structure.

Most often in the modern chemical power sources, are used:

For the material of anode (reductant) – zinc (Zn), lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd) and certain other metals;

For the material of cathode (oxidant) – lead oxide PbO2, manganese oxide, MnO2, nickel oxide hydroxide NiOOH and others;

Electrolytes based on solutions of acids, alkali or salts.

​Paper wrapper – the future of battery technology.

Researchers from Arizona State University believe that folding paper lithium-ion batteries can solve many problems of modern mobile electronics.

The new type of battery is really unusual. This is lithium-ion battery, but it looks like a sheet of black paper, which can be folded, twisted into a tube, and can be crumpled, etc. Moreover, scientists have proved that the “paper” battery has in 14 times greater energy density than conventional lithium-ion battery. But that’s not all: the new battery is cheap in production, and thanks to its flexibility, it can be installed in various ways: can be wrapped like packaging paper, can be folded like origami, can be pasted on the walls, etc.

A new lithium-ion battery can be folded like a sheet of paper.

Folding “paper” batteries will be useful to power devices, into which are difficult to fit the usual batteries in a sturdy plastic or metal body. Also, foldable battery can become the basis for a new type of electronics, such as smartphones, which can be folded several times, as a sheet of paper, and you can put it in your pocket.

For the manufacture of new batteries are used carbon nanotubes, lithium powders and thin porous paper substrate Kimwipes. For improving of the adhesion of the carbon nanotubes, scientists also have added a polyvinylidene fluoride. The resulting battery exhibits good conductivity and a relatively stable capacity.

The researchers experimented with different forms of a battery. By simply folding the sheet, the ratio of capacity to the battery area is growing: the battery 6×7 cm folded in 25 layers of 14 times, and an overall battery area is only 1.68 square centimeters.

The new type of battery offers great opportunities for creating of mobile devices. Now, designers can more freely choose the layout of the electronics, and to make flexible devices, because today there are already prototypes of flexible displays.

Zinc-air batteries for hearing aids.

The most popular batteries for hearing aids – zinc-air batteries. These batteries work thanks to its unique design, inside of it is condensed the oxygen from the environment. Due to this, the energy that condenses inside the battery – allows it to work several times longer than alkaline or lithium ion batteries.

With zinc air batteries, you can expect from the device the clean sound, normal (stable) work of all its systems, and a much longer period of operation of the battery itself.

However, the most important advantage of this type of batteries is that they do not leak as for example, alkaline batteries. When you remove the protective film, the battery begins to run.

Once you have removed the protective sticker – wipe the residual adhesive and leave the battery on the table for 2 minutes before you insert it into the unit. Sticker protects the battery from the prematurely activating.

Since the sticker is attached to the battery with the help of special adhesive, this material rather actively responds to temperature change. In this connection, the battery must not to overheat or supercool. Optimum temperature for the storage of the battery is not more than 24°C and not less than 5°C.

Batteries should be stored in containers in a dark, cool place, and do not wear them in a pocket or purse. Do not let the battery get into the hands of a child, as a child can eat it.

Battery life depends on several factors:

First, what type of battery is used. The bigger battery, the more powerful is it. For batteries №10, the average life is from 7 to 9 days. For batteries № 312 service life is 10-12 days. For batteries №13 and № 675 service life is from 12 to 14 days and more.

Second, the strengthening of a hearing aid. The greater the gain, the more energy is consumed from the battery.

Thirdly, the sound field in which the device is used. Simply put, if you are using the device only in a quiet environment, your battery will serve longer.

Fourth, a very important is time of the year. The higher the temperature and humidity at the time of operation, the lower the “lifetime” of battery. That is, in the winter, the heating season, when the maximum operating temperature changes to 50 ° C and humidity up to 100%, the battery life is reduced by approximately 15-20%.

If you did not insert a battery into the device it is discharged in 3-4 weeks after the removal of the protective tape. That is why you must follow the rules of storage of spare batteries.

Zinc-air batteries.

Although the authors of several publications say that zinc-air battery is one of the subspecies of the fuel cell, it is not entirely true. Having familiarized with the principle of working of zinc-air battery, even in general terms, you can make a quite unambiguous conclusion that it is more correct to consider it as a separate class of autonomous power sources.

The design of the cell of zinc-air battery includes an anode and a cathode separated by an alkaline electrolyte and mechanical separator. As a cathode is used gas diffusion electrode (GDE). The permeable membrane of cathode allows to obtain oxygen from a circulating air. “Fuel” is a zinc anode, which is oxidized in the process of working of battery, and an oxidizing agent – oxygen obtained from entering air through the “breathing hole”.

At the cathode occurs reaction of electroreduction of oxygen, the products of which are negatively charged hydroxide ions:

O2 + 2H2O + 4e 4OH-.

Hydroxide ions in the electrolyte are moved to the zinc anode, where oxidation occurs zinc with releasing of electrons, which are returned via an external circuit to the cathode:

Zn + 4OH- Zn (OH) 42- + 2e.

Zn (OH) 42- ZnO + 2OH- + H2O.

It is clear that zinc-air battery does not fall under the classification of chemical fuel cells: First, they use a consumable electrode (anode), and secondly, the fuel is initially laid into the cell, and is not supplied from the outside during operation.
The voltage between the electrodes of one cell of zinc-air battery is 1.45 V, which is very close to the same parameter of alkaline batteries. If necessary, to obtain a higher voltage, you can combine a few series-connected cells.

Zinc is a fairly common and inexpensive material, so for the deployment of mass production of zinc-air batteries, manufacturers will not have problems with raw materials. Furthermore, even at the initial stage a cost of such power sources will be competitive.

It is also important that the zinc-air batteries are very eco-friendly products. The materials used for their production, do not poison the environment and can be used again after processing. The reaction products of zinc-air battery (water and zinc oxide) also completely safe for humans and the environment – zinc oxide even is used as the main component of baby powder.

From the operational properties of zinc-air battery is worth noting such advantages, as low self-discharge rate in unactivated state and a small change of the voltage in a process of discharge (flat discharge curve).

A certain drawback of zinc-air battery is the influence of relative humidity of the incoming air on the characteristics of element. For example, a zinc-air battery, designed to operate at a relative humidity 60%, with an increase in moisture content to 90% is reduced battery life on 15%.

Polymer solar cells.

Solar panels are eco-friendly, but at the same time – very expensive. Scientists have found them an alternative – a polymer solar cell.

A man, who is interested in solar power, well imagines what is a solar cell – a collection of numerous solar cells, mounted on some surface.

The solar cell is a semiconductor device that converts solar energy into electric current. Photovoltaics “traditional” solar cells are made of silicon. The manufacturing process of such panels is complicated and very expensive. Although that silicon is a very common element and that the Earth’s crust contains about 20% of silica, the process of transformation of the starting sand into a high-purity silicon is very complex and expensive.

Furthermore, often arise problems with disposal of used photocells, because these solar cells contain cadmium in addition to silicon. This led scientists to look for more efficient ways to convert solar energy.

An alternative to silicon solar cell can become a polymer solar cell. This new technology. Dozens of research institutes and companies around the world are working on the development of it.

Polymer photocell – a film which is composed of an active layer (polymer), aluminum electrodes, a flexible organic substrate and protective layer.

Advantages of polymer solar cells in comparison with conventional crystalline: compactness, light weight, flexibility. Such batteries inexpensive to produce (for their manufacture do not use expensive silicon) and are environmentally friendly as they have on the environment less significant effect.

The one disadvantage – conversion efficiency of solar energy of polymer solar cells is very low. This disadvantage limits the creation of such panels at the level of prototype models.

Currently, the highest efficiency of polymer solar cells have achieved Alan J. Heeger from center of polymer and organic solids of the University of California at Santa Barbara (he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery and development of conductive polymers) and Kvanhe Lee from Korea Institute of science and technology in Guangzhou.

Their solar cell has an efficiency of 6.5% at light of 0.2 watts per square centimeter. This is the highest level achieved for solar cells made from organic materials. And although the best silicon solar cells have an efficiency of 40%, however many people are very interested in polymer batteries.

Flexible batteries.

It’s not a secret that the batteries are firmly entered in the everyday life of modern people. The power supplies of our cell phones, digital cameras, camcorders, tablets and laptops – the list can be endless.

Despite the achievements of the battery industry, such as lithium batteries of any shape and any desired size, progress in this field does not stand still, and the next innovation – a flexible battery.

This battery is based on a flexible polymer. If with liquefied electrolyte could be problems related to security due to the destruction of the separating film when heated in the process of operating, in the case of the polymer the stability of the materials is very, very high.

Another type of flexible batteries that can be printed on a special printer, offers the Imprint Energy company. The company intends to use the zinc instead of the traditional lithium. Zinc-polymer flexible batteries can be used with success in a miniature medical electronics and in the autonomous sensors.

Use of zinc will make the batteries more compact, because the zinc does not react with the environment as the lithium reacts. Also, these batteries can withstand, without losing their characteristics, over a thousand cycles of charge-discharge. Such flexible and safe batteries can also be used in implantable electronics.

In turn, the largest Korean chemical company LG Chemical, one of the leading manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries in the world, a member of the LG Corporation, recently introduced to consumers of lithium-ion battery of completely new type. Novelty in appearance very similar to a conventional piece of electric cable with a diameter of about three millimeters and a length of 25 centimeters.

Chemically battery works like any lithium-ion analogue. It, like any battery, has an electrolyte, an anode, a cathode made of lithium cobalt oxide. However, the components are located in the form of flexible spirals.

Stranded copper electrode made of copper, coated with alloy of tin and nickel, serves as a cathode. This multifilamentary wire coiled around the steel rod with diameter of half a millimeter, and, upon completion of the winding, the rod is removed. The anode, which has incredible flexibility is ready.

Atop spiral of anode is located aluminum tape, then the suspension of lithium-cobalt oxide – the cathode. Thereafter, the resulting cord is placed in a protective wrap, and through a cavity that remains in the center is filled with a liquid electrolyte, and it is the final stage of a flexible battery.

Outlooks of application are simply unlimited, because, as already noted, batteries are used everywhere in the modern world.