New Batteries Smaller than Bacteria

Dennis Faas's picture

Just when you thought that innovations could not get any more compact, a new report out of Rice University is claiming that scientists have been able to construct a working battery that is six times thinner in size than a bacterium.

The microscopic battery measures 150 nanometers in width, meaning that it is literally hundreds of times thinner than a human hair follicle, and more than 60,000 times smaller than a regular AAA battery.

Battery / Supercapacitor Hybrid

The diminutive power pack is manufactured by the thousands in dense arrays. It is actually a cross between a battery and a supercapacitor, which allows it to deliver more power at once compared to a standard battery -- though researchers continue to refer to it as a "battery" nonetheless.

Each battery is a nanowire, with one half of the wire working as a negative electrode and the other half working as a positive electrode. (Source:

Current plans call for these tiny batteries to one day be implanted into any small device ranging from high-end medical equipment to random household objects, rendering even the most ordinary instrument "smart" (like toothbrushes, for example).

Performance Issues Hinder Commercialization

The miniscule batteries are still currently a lab prototype, and initial growing pains continue to hinder any chances at commercial distribution.

The most prolific problem with the tiny batteries is that their performance drastically reduces after approximately 20 recharges. This is a huge limitation, especially if they are to be used in conjunction with lifesaving devices. (Source:

Still, the fact that such an innovation exists is remarkable and should come with its fair share of research if scientists are able to extend its lifespan.

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