Monday, October 03, 2005

Building a Better Battery

In February, Altair Nanotechnologies, a small firm based in Reno, Nevada, announced a new kind of lithium-ion battery, the technology that powers many portable devices. Its prototype has three times the capacity of existing batteries and can be fully charged in six minutes.

Altair's trick was to coat the anode with lithium-titanate nanocrystals, says Roy Graham, the company's development director. This enlarges the surface area of the anode from around three square metres per gram to 100 square metres, increasing the capacity of the battery and boosting the rate at which ions are able to move to and from the anode, which is what determines how long it takes to charge. In June, Altair secured a $477,000 grant from America's National Science Foundation to further its design by using nanoparticles on both electrodes. This could further increase power density and reduce charging time, says Mr Graham.

Hard on the heels of Altair's announcement, Toshiba revealed that it too has developed a battery using nanotechnology that is capable of charging to 80% of full capacity in one minute.
Given how much advancement there has been in hard drive capacity and microprocessor speed, it has always disappointed me how little advancement there has been in battery technology. Where is the Moore's law of batteries? So I am glad to see they are making some advancements. Now that all technology is going wireless and mobile any advancements in battery technology will have huge payoffs. 3 times the capacity with a 6 minute recharge time? Sign me up. Not to mention that plugin-hybrid cars would be way better with some better batteries. If you could juice up your Prius in 15 minutes rather than over night that would be a major improvement.

Via The Economist

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