Supercapacitors

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With the proliferation of MEMS technologies and wireless sensor networks, power generation for micro devices is becoming an important topic. To address the state of battery technologies in general, and micro batteries in particular, we spoke with an expert on batteries,Dr. Tom Reddy. In this interview, Dr. Reddy reviews the basics of batteries, highlights some of the recent developments and provides updates on the status of micro battery companies and technologies. Dr. Reddy is the editor of Linden's Handbook of Batteries, 4th Editionpublished by McGraw-Hill. MEMS Investor Journal: In general, what are the most significant performance metrics for batteries? Dr. Tom Reddy: The most significant parameters are specific energy (Wh/kg), energy density (Wh/liter), specific power (watts/kg), power density (watts/liter) and, for rechargeable batteries, cycle life. MEMS Investor Journal: Can you briefly explain what each of these means in simple terms?
Dr. Tom Reddy: Specific energy is the amount of energy (watt-hours) in a battery divided by its weight, energy density is the amount of energy divided by the battery volume, specific power is the power output in Watts at a particular current divided by the battery weight, power density is the power output at a particular current divided by the battery volume.

Cycle life is the number of times a battery can be charged and discharged under a given protocol (such as current and temperature) to a specific endpoint, normally defined as 80% of its initial charge in amphours. Energy is the charge, or capacity, in amp-hours times the average voltage in volts. MEMS Investor Journal: Overall, what have been the main technology development trends in the past decade? What are the major milestones that have been achieved? Dr. Tom Reddy: The most significant advance in battery technology in the last decade is the emergence of lithium-ion batteries as the dominant power source for consumer electronics and more recently plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) such as the Chevy Volt and electric vehicles (EVs) such as the Nissan Leaf. Commercially available lithium-ion cells which are mass-produced provide a specific energy of 200 watthours/kg and an energy density of 570 Wh/liter. MEMS Investor Journal: One emerging battery technology are supercapacitors. Can you briefly describe how supercapacitors work and how they are different from other types of batteries? What are the pros and cons? What are the best applications for supercapacitors? Which applications are not ideal? Dr. Tom Reddy: Supercapacitors use one electrode which is like a battery electrode where charge is stored in the electrode and a second electrode where the charge is stored on the surface as in a conventional

Long cycle life has not been demonstrated.0 milliAmps). (www. A detailed analysis carried out by Professor Jeff Dahn of Dalhousie University in Halifax.infinitepowersolutions.com) 2) Infinite Power Solutions (www. Front Edge Technologies has demonstrated that its 0. particular lithium-air for a variety of applications including microbatteries. Tom Reddy: This technology was developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge. polymers or metal foils.excellatron.9 mAh cell can be discharged at rates up to 11 C (10. They suffer from low energy density and high cost.com) 5) Cymbet Corp. soda-lime glass. Applications where volume and cost are important considerations are non-ideal. mica. quartz. They provide very high power capability and very long cycle life. In some cases. conformal coating to prevent the ingress of air or moisture. Tom Reddy: In addition to employing a thin. alumina. These deposition processes occur on a substrate which may be silicon.1 to 2. A 0. Lithium-air has a theoretical specific energy of 11.com) As an example. solid electrolyte (typically a material called LiPON).cymbet. large-sized cells? Dr. Each cell must be covered with a protective. two individual cells are deposited on opposite sides of the substrate and then connected in parallel to provide higher capacity.500 Wh/kg and can be recharged by using a thin film solid or polymeric electrolyte in the cell.5 milliAmphours (mAh) capacity.25 mAh cell from the same company has been recharged in a few minutes and may be charged and discharged over 1000 times. MEMS Investor Journal: Aside from size. products from Infinite Power Solutions are available in sizes from 0.com) 4) Front Edge Technology (www. what are the main differences between micro sized batteries and regular.com) 3) Excellertron (www. the electrode materials and electrolyte are deposited in thin films using sputtering and evaporative techniques employed in semiconductor devices. MEMS Investor Journal: What are the most promising technologies for micro-sized batteries that are in development but not the on the market yet? Dr. Tom Reddy: There is much current interest in metal-air batteries. MEMS Investor Journal: What are the main technologies currently on the market for micro-sized batteries? How do these compare with each other and what are the pros and cons? Dr. however. They may find applications in hybrid power systems where the battery provides the energy and the supercap provides the power.capacitor. Nova Scotia and presented at a seminar on metalair batteries at IBM's Almaden Research Center in California showed that when practical considerations are included. the energy density (Wh/liter) of lithium- .frontedgetechnology. Tennessee and has been licensed to the following companies: 1) Oak Ridge Micro-Energy (www.oakridgemicro.

He was a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the University of Illinois and his work there included studies of Thermal Batteries. and foreign military. There is also research currently going on at Sandia National Laboratory. to the other. This work is still in the research phase but potentially can provide a high surface area of electroactive materal in a small volume. D & E programs on Lithium-Ion. He served as the technical expert on batteries for NASA's New Millennium Program and directed development of Lithium-ion and Lithium primary batteries for JPL's Mars exploration programs. Unfortunately. in Chemistry from Yale University and a Ph. widely used by the U. Silver. later Hawker Eternacell. He subsequently served as the Director of Technology and a Vice-President of Power Conversion (PCI). a leading manufacturer of Lithium primary batteries for military and industrial applications. he was a Senior Research Chemist and Group Leader and directed the group that developed the Lithium/Sulfur Dioxide Primary Battery.S. Thus. He completed his industrial career as the Vice-President of Engineering at Yardney Technical Products/Lithion where he directed R. . D. carrying out research on Molten Salt Electrolytes. FCs do not scale down since there are hardware components called "balance-of-plant" by chemical engineers which are necessary for operation.air is no better than current lithiumion rechargeable batteries. Stanford University. MEMS Investor Journal: What about micro fuel cells? Dr. FCs and batteries are termed galvanic cells and operate isothermally and thus are not limited by the Carnot Cycle limitations of heat engines. FCs are chemical plants to which a fuel. Reddy received a B. Since volume is very important in microbatteries. Nickel and Metal-Air Batteries. His responsibilities at PCI included R & D. Quality Control and Technology Transfer. the potential advantage of lithium-air batteries may be non-existent. including the Mars Exploration Rovers.S. Tom Reddy: Small fuel cells (FCs) are being touted as a replacement for small batteries. an oxidant. *********************************** ********** Thomas B. He served as a Member of Technical Staff at Bell Laboratories. These agents then combine electrochemically to produce electrical energy. small FCs are only competitive with batteries for applications requiring operation of more than about 50 hours. At the Central Research Laboratory of the American Cyanamid Company. as well as consumer electronics applications and electric and hybrid vehicles. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Minnesota where his thesis research was on the properties of non-aqueous electrolytes. typically hydrogen or an alcohol such as methanol are fed to one electrode and air. Rice University and other labs to deposit battery active materials in nano-wires or nano-columns to provide a threedimensional arrays of an electode for microbatteries.

. 4th Edition.Dr. government and industry.S. He serves on U. Reddy is currently a Distinguished Visiting Scientist in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Rutgers University and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School of UMDNJ. Reddy is the editor of Linden's Handbook of Batteries. Government and UL committees and consults for academia. Dr.

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