Battery Life: The Last Big Hurdle Might be Solved

Jason Lee Miller writes in today’s Web Pro News about big, big news, in science.

“M.I.T. just announced a battery breakthrough. Successfully scaling down technology in development over the past 40 years, the crew at M.I.T has put together what they call “the first technologically significant and economically viable alternative to conventional batteries in more than 200 years.”

In less esoteric terms, that means soon consumers won’t need to worry about mobile phone or notebook computer battery lifespan. It will power up and stay powered up.

The energy storage device is called an ultracapacitor-a next generation super-battery that stores energy as an electrical field using atomic-level nanotube structures.

Developed by M.I.T.’s Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems (LEES), the ultracapacitors hold a 10-year-plus lifetieme, are indifferent to temperature change, highly immune to shock and vibration, and have high charging and discharging efficiency.

The key to developing an ultracapacitor small enough to be used in mobile electronics and outlast a standard lithium ion battery was the utilization of vertically aligned, single-wall carbon nanotubes.

By making them vertically aligned, developers were able to overcome problems with irregular shapes that reduced efficiency and increased surface area.