A team based at Harvard University and the University of Illinois at Urbana have successfully created lithium-ion microbatteries the size of a grain of sand using 3D printing technology.
This image shows the interlaced stack of electrodes that were printed layer by layer to create the working anode and cathode of a microbattery. [Ke Sun, Teng-Sing Wei, Jennifer Lewis, Shen J. Dillon]
The batteries, which are thinner than human hairs, could supply electricity to tiny devices such as robot insects, medical implants, as well as some inventions which have lingered on lab benches for lack of a battery small enough to fit the device.
Traditionally manufacturers have deposited thin films of solid materials to build the electrodes. However, while these designs were ultra-thin, these solid-state micro-batteries do not pack sufficient energy to power such miniaturized devices.
The scientists realized they could pack more energy if they could create stacks of tightly interlaced, ultrathin electrodes. For this they turned to 3D printing.
To print 3-D electrodes, the researchers, led by Jennifer Lewis of the Harvard University, created an ink for the anode with nanoparticles of one lithium metal oxide compound, and an ink for the cathode from nanoparticles of another. The 3D printer deposited the inks onto the teeth of two gold combs, creating a tightly interlaced stack of anodes and cathodes. Then the researchers packaged the electrodes into a tiny container and filled it with an electrolyte solution to complete the battery.
Those inks solidify to create the battery's anode (red) and cathode (purple), layer by layer. A case (green) then encloses the electrodes and the electrolyte solution added to create a working microbattery. [Credit: Ke Sun, Bok Yeop Ahn, Jennifer Lewis, Shen J. Dillon]
In this video, a 3D-printer nozzle narrower than a human hair lays down a specially formulated "ink" layer by layer to build a microbattery's anode from the ground up. The inks contain nanoparticles of a lithium metal oxide compound that give the anode the proper electrical properties. Credit: Teng-Sing Wei, Bok Yeop Ahn, Jennifer Lewis
Next, they measured how much energy could be packed into the tiny batteries, how much power they could deliver, and how long they held a charge.
"The electrochemical performance is comparable to commercial batteries in terms of charge and discharge rate, cycle life and energy densities," said Shen Dillon, co-author and an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois.
The work was supported by the National Science Foundation and the DOE Energy Frontier Research Center on Light-Material Interactions in Energy Conversion.
Posted in 3D Printing Technology
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Ben Cavallin wrote at 7/5/2013 1:20:04 PM:
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