Batteries?

I remember when I didn’t really think about my phone’s battery life all day. The Nokia 3310 was still around, and it could last for several days on one charge, and it was sturdy as hell! Then we made screens huge, which sucks up a lot of power, and now smartphones still have horrible battery life, just enough to get through the day, and with some models, not even (we’re looking at you, iPhone!).

However, lately, phones have been getting larger which means developers can stick bigger batteries in them thus increasing battery life.

Is the solution really to have bigger batteries?

According to scientists, it isn’t. The solution is actually to make them smaller as crazy as that may sound. Essentially, 3D printing battery cells and making them work at smaller and smaller scales. You can think of batteries as a mesh in which electricity is stuck. That mesh or net that’s supposed to catch electrons takes up space, so making the mesh take less space will allow more electrons to be there, thus increasing available energy.

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This image shows the interlaced stack of electrodes that were printed layer by layer to create the working anode and cathode of a microbattery. (Credit: Ke Sun, Teng-Sing Wei, Jennifer Lewis, Shen J. Dillon)

A  Lithium-ion battery about the size of a grain of sand has been successfully 3D printed for the first time. This is truly amazing, with this kind of technology we can make batteries with many times the capacity of current day batteries, on the same size, or even smaller.

“Not only did we demonstrate for the first time that we can 3-D-print a battery, we demonstrated it in the most rigorous way” said Jennifer Lewis, Ph.D., senior author of the study (Source)

So, what other developments are being made in energy storage? Nikola Tesla invented Wireless Power Transmission (WPT) in 1902, and this technology is just now being applied to send electricity over big distances. If devices can be charged wirelessly, they will need much smaller capacity batteries in the future anyways, as they will be continuously charging as you walk about your house. Nanobatteries and WPT will come together and power most home electronics, all without those ugly, pesky wires.

Some applications include wirelessly charging all your devices, or charging your electric car. Even having wireless solar panels or wind turbines that transmit electricity to your house’s receiver and store it in a Nanobattery power bank, for when you really need some juice. The possibilities are endless!

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These technologies can dramatically reduce costs and increase availability of technology throughout the world, giving people a better quality of life as long as sustainability and renewability is kept in mind during the design phase.

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