The Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana, announces, “High-power lithium ion microbatteries from interdigitated three-dimensional bicontinuous nanoporous electrodes”

It seems to me too many big words in the title will keep people from finding it with search engines. Oh well.

The press release is exciting.

Here is the link to the abstract.
http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v4/n4/full/ncomms2747.html
“Here we report lithium ion microbatteries having power densities up to 7.4 mW cm−2 μm−1, which equals or exceeds that of the best supercapacitors, and which is 2,000 times higher than that of other microbatteries.”
I find this wording contrived: “three-dimensional bicontinuous interdigitated”. Interdigitated? I suppose it is standard, and just a fancy word for “interlocking”. Digits imply fingers to me. The information does not seem to imply digits or fingers (or digital processing versus analog). Hmm…

If the statements in the press release can be taken at face value, this is a game changer. However, I think jump-starting a car with a cell phone is hyperbole. If you want to read the paper, it’s a pretty penny. Nature figures the best way to retain their reputation as high class is to charge high fees. The supplemental file is available, and I’m not seeing “game changer” jump out at me. It looks like a standard CR1620 watch battery has around 50 times more energy density than these things, and the best available lithium batteries are just not that far behind the best of these in power density (and still ahead in energy density).

They seem to essentially be lithium batteries, only made better, and they do have impressive power densities, so I suspect the electric super car manufacturers will be interested for a turbo-boost or nitrous style acceleration enhancer. Who knows, these things might make ray guns of some sort possible, perhaps single shot, maybe more, and quick recharge. Overall, these might work well for certain electronics communications applications, but I am really thinking this isn’t that promising, and like so many things, the initial announcements sound so good, but nothing is ever delivered. Too often the information is hyped (not often intentionally, but there are a lot of pressures that can obscure intentions) to satisfy the funders or to pump up the next round of funding. I mean, a person does have to earn a living.

Figure 3 is available, and worth reviewing: http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v4/n4/carousel/ncomms2747-f3.jpg