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Scientists build a battery thinner than a human hair


Science has not yet provided us with batteries that can power our electronics for more than 10 hours, but we have learned how to make batteries really small. Researchers at Rice University, led by Professor Pulickel Ajayan, have developed a complete lithium ion battery/supercapacitor hybrid that fits inside a single nanowire. The tiny device is 150 nanometers thick (it takes 1 billion nanometers to equal a single meter) and proves that lithium ion technology can work on a micro scale previously thought impossible. Each of these batteries is about the thickness of a human hair, but can be strung together (in theory) to cover as much space as desired.

“The idea here is to fabricate nanowire energy storage devices with ultrathin separation between the electrodes,” said Arava Leela Mohana Reddy, a research scientist at Rice and co-author of the paper. “This affects the electrochemical behavior of the device. Our devices could be a very useful tool to probe nanoscale phenomenon.”

How will this affect you? Well it won’t, for a while. But in the future, technology like this should make it possible to further reduce the size of electronic devices and equipment, which is currently hampered by the size of lithium ion batteries. Combined with new technologies that increase the efficiency of these batteries, these kinds of developments could lead to big enhancements.

Still, we have to wonder how thin the MacBook Air can become before it gets too sharp to open.