3D-Printed Lithium-Ion Battery Is the Size of a Pinhead
Harvard University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and visiting researchers from South Korea have demonstrated the ability to 3D print a pinhead-sized battery. These interlaced and stacked electrodes were printed layer by layer to create the working anode and cathode. (Source: Jennifer A. Lewis/Harvard University)
1. battery power in mAh ratings is directly proportional to the physical size of the cell. 2. The future applications are going to be toward much smaller, lower power devices . The second point is validated by the fact that MEDICA Dusseldorf as identified low power design as the medical device market driver. So if the design is low power, then even a battery wil less ampere hour rating can be used.
Jim, that's a brilliant comparison. I'd still like to know exactly what process/materials they've invented and how it differs from others already in existence. The lead author, Jennifer Lewis, was quoted in an MIT Technology Review article here http://www.technologyreview.com/news/516561/a-battery-and-a-bionic-ear-a-hint-of-3-d-printings-promise/ saying that her team's method could print 2D and 3D electronics, including antennas, which sounds like the printed 3D electronic circuits Optomec is doing as we covered here http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=265097 although of course they're not made with thin-film. She also says the process is extrusion. Another similarity with Optomec is that in this same MIT article, Lewis talks about the potential for integrated electronics.
Ann-You know what the article's image reminded me of, were MEMS devices, etched from silicon. The 3D printing might be just the disruptive technology that the MEMS industry needed, as the silicone-etching process is so cost prohibitive.
Remember that battery power in mAh ratings is directly proportional to the physical size of the cell. While this is a breakthrough for 3D printing, there is a long way to go before it could power a pace-maker – if ever. I think the future applications are going to be toward much smaller, lower power devices.
Charles - your 800 uM estimate seems about right, from the scale in the image. It looks like 800 or maybe 1,000.
But I have a difficult time envisioning uM's, or microns. In order to wrap my head around that tiny number I had to convert it to a unit I am much more familiar with, being either millimeters or thousands of an inch, which I understand better in my head.
That image is ~ 1,000 microns --- or, about 1.0mm --- or, about .040" .
When I see 1mm [.040"] now I'm clearly seeing a more tangible size -- about the plastic wall thickness of a common molded housing.
Still unbelievably small for a battery; but not microscopic. – (Just helps me to visualize it better.)
vimalkumarp --My thoughts exactly. I know the technology is somewhat distant but when ready, I can see a device such as this powering a pace maker or maybe a pump implant delivering medication to a diabetic. This is the type of life-saving R&D worth the time and money. Also, the probability of powering sensors needing somewhat low power would seem to be a suitable candidate for this 3D device. Great post Elizabeth. Very informative.
Lonegity is also another important criteria in the batteries used for implantable medical devices. There is an increase in number and types of implanatable devices and power ratings of these are different understandably. Like rating for a cochlear implant battery may be different for ICD requirement and same is true with longevity.
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