Electrical devices have gotten smaller over time but, in spite of advances in circuit miniaturization, the batteries that power them are still monstrous by comparison. A micro-battery could change all of that.
The first cell phone, or what we might recognize as a mobile phone, was produced in 1973 by Motorola, weighed 40oz and took 10hrs to recharge for 35min of talk time. A lot of that weight was taken up by batteries and over 30 circuit boards.
Thanks to advances in electronics miniaturization, Modu, the world’s lightest mobile phone, weighs in at just 1.41oz and is barely 3” high. No word yet on battery capacity, but I’m sure that more than half the weight of the Modu is battery.
Battery technology has always been a compromise between weight, power and energy. Heavy batteries offer more of both, but you can’t have both at the same time. Powerful batteries, capacitors and supercapacitors can deliver a lot of energy in a very short time, but need to be recharged afterward.
On the other end of the scale, batteries with a lot of energy release their energy over a long period of time, but aren’t very powerful. In the case of mobile phones, the demand for faster processors and bright screens is at odds with the demand for batteries that last a long time, meaning that the battery is still fairly weighty.
That could all change if researchers at University of Illinois can commercialize a new micro-battery technology they’ve been working on. By reducing the size of the anode and cathode to the microscale and making it three dimensional, researchers have been able to reduce the size of the battery on the whole. Additionally, the new micro-batteries offer both power and energy, and can be tuned to whichever balance is required, and they charge nearly instantaneously.