Most of us can’t live without our electronic gadgets, and as they become smaller and more powerful, they become capable of doing even more to make our lives simpler and more productive. Driven by consumer demand, technological leaps in processor hardware and software features are happening at a rapid pace.
What hasn’t changed in a while is battery technology, leaving us with devices that can’t last as long as a typical work day. In addition, many great gadgets never make it to production because to be useful, they need small, light, higher powered and longer-lasting batteries that simply do not exist.
All that might change sooner that you think. Back in 2011, a University of Illinois research group led by Paul Braun developed a three-dimensional (3D) battery cathode structure that provided dramatically faster charging and discharging. But the cathode is just one of two main parts to modern batteries.
MicroBattery 3D Cathode/Anode Structure – courtesy the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology
A new report from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign tells of another research group led by William P. King that has “developed a matching anode and then developed a new way to integrate the two components at the microscale to make a complete battery with superior performance”.
These new “microbatteries” will offer a wide range of power and energy combinations, and could allow for credit-card thin cell phones with radio signals that broadcast 30 times farther, while at the same time be recharged in an instant.
William P. King
As King puts it: “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.”
I look forward to my next iPad Mini with a full retina display and an Apple-developed quad-core processor… with week-long runtime provided by a reolutionary 3D microbattery!