MURI - Three Dimensional Architectures for
Electrochemical Power Sources








Thin film batteries have demonstrated rather impressive performance with respect to lithium capacity, cycle life and energy density. Despite their excellent characteristics, these batteries underscore the inherent limitations in 2-D battery systems; thin film batteries are unable to provide meaningful power levels for reasonable periods of time.

We propose to overcome the size and energy density deficiencies of thin film batteries by creating cubic-millimeter sized power supplies based on three-dimensional (3-D) geometries. 3-D configurations offer a means of keeping the diffusion distances "short" and yet provide enough active material such that the 3-D batteries will be capable of powering MEMS devices and microelectronic circuits for extended periods of time. We have assembled an interdisciplinary team combining research Universities with the Naval Research Laboratory in a program that will provide the 3-D nanoarchitecture designs, fabrication approaches and enabling science for a new generation of electrochemical power sources.

Our program will proceed along dual fronts:
1) One activity will focus on the fabrication, testing and analysis of 3-D batteries in which the electroactive components are of micrometer length scale;
2) In parallel, we will establish the basic 3-D architectures and fabrication strategies for creating electroactive structures at the nanometer length scale.

At the micrometer length scale, the ability to design and fabricate a functioning 3-D battery currently exists, but has yet to be exploited. Our program takes advantage of the extensive advances in micromachining and other technical areas that are well away from the power sources field to demonstrate a functional 3-D battery architecture. The outcome here is a tangible device that not only powers a MEMS microactuator but also establishes an important paradigm shift to the power sources field - from 2-D to 3-D. The research in support of this goal includes numerical modeling and scientific studies of colloidal materials synthesis and processing.

The second research activity is directed at the dimensional regime of 100 nm and below, where 3-D design and fabrication strategies are still evolving. The MURI team will address the key materials synthesis and fabrication issues that will provide the enabling science and technology for producing 3-D nanostructured batteries. Three complementary approaches are identified for synthesizing electroactive nanoscale building blocks. An important component of this work will be model simulations which consider transport and electrode kinetics at the nanoscale.

We believe that our "two-level" strategy, of an integrated device/fundamental science program, is designed to meet the challenge of creating revolutionary approaches to electrochemical power sources.


Charles R. Sides and Prof. Martin's work on nanostructured electrodes is selected as cover art for

Advanced Materials (Jan. 05).











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Last update: May 15, 2004