May 16, 2015 | By Alec

Even if you’re not exactly an electronics wizard, anyone ever dabbling with 3D printing projects will have noticed that electronics are shrinking at an alarming rate. Case in point: the Arduinos and Raspberry Pi’s that are becoming so small that they can be readily incorporated in any handheld objects. However, there is a limit to how small things can get as shrinking down batteries without losing power has so far been exceptionally complicated, explaining why all that microchip spy equipment and microscopic medical implants aren’t a reality yet.

But when we say so far, it means there’s still plenty of room to overcome that stalemate, and it looks like that’s exactly what scientists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have done. They have created a super small battery using an unusual 3D printing technique that can be used to power all those miniscule chips already available. Their secret? Combining 3D holographic lithography with 2D photolithography into a single manufacturing technique that can almost be likened to Stereolithography 3D printing on a far smaller level. In a nutshell, the holographic lithography is used to define the 3D structure of the battery, which is subsequently used to create successive layers of material using 2D photolithography technology. The result? A 3D electrode shape.

The lithium-ion battery they created with this technology can easily muster a current of 0.5 mA, or enough to power an LED light. However, it can just as easily be used for a whole range of microelectric and medical applications, especially as the tin body is expected to have a very good life expectancy. ‘This 3D microbattery has exceptional performance and scalability, and we think it will be of importance for many applications,” professor of materials science and engineering Paul Braun says on his university’s website. ‘Micro-scale devices typically utilize power supplied off-chip because of difficulties in miniaturizing energy storage technologies. A miniaturized high-energy and high-power on-chip battery would be highly desirable for applications including autonomous microscale actuators, distributed wireless sensors and transmitters, monitors, and portable and implantable medical devices.’

The results of the study will appear in an article entitled ‘Holographic Patterning of High Performance on-chip 3D Lithium-ion Microbatteries,’ to be published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. First author and graduate student Hailong Ning explained that they essentially combined various concepts from various manufacturing specialisms to create the battery. ‘This work merges important concepts in fabrication, characterization, and modeling, showing that the energy and power of the microbattery are strongly related to the structural parameters of the electrodes such as size, shape, surface area, porosity, and tortuosity. A significant strength of this new method is that these parameters can be easily controlled during lithography steps, which offers unique flexibility for designing next-generation on-chip energy storage devices,’ Ning said.

The battery they created reportedly possesses well-defined and periodically structured porous electrodes that essentially function like a supercapacitor through the facilition of quickly transporting electrons and ions inside the battery. As you can imagine, this wasn’t easy to create. ‘Although accurate control on the interfering optical beams is required to construct 3D holographic lithography, recent advances have significantly simplified the required optics, enabling creation of structures via a single incident beam and standard photoresist processing. This makes it highly scalable and compatible with microfabrication,’ professor John Rogers, who also worked on the project, says.

The expectations for these interesting 3D printed batteries are high, which can be expected when publicly dreaming of medical applications like that. Unfortunately we’ll have to wait a few years for marketable versions that can be incorporated into miniscule 3D printing projects.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


Maybe you also like:


viaan wrote at 6/13/2016 1:26:28 PM:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive