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3D printer creates lithium-ion batteries the size of a grain of sand

The nanobatteries could power miniaturized medical implants, compact electronics or tiny bots

Computerworld – Researchers have found a new application of 3D printing that produces lithium-ion batteries the size of a grain of sand. The batteries could some day enable the development of miniaturized medical implants, compact electronics or tiny bots.

The 3D printing technology, developed by researchers at Harvard University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was able to produce interlaced stacks of tiny battery electrodes, each less than the width of a human hair.

The researchers see the micro batteries as a possible source of electricity for tiny devices that could be used in areas ranging from medicine to communications. The batteries may also help advance uses of nanotechnology, which has lingered on lab benches for lack of a battery small and powerful enough to fit into a device, such as a miniaturized medical implant.

The results of the research were published online in the journal Advanced Materials.

“Not only did we demonstrate for the first time that we can 3D-print a battery; we demonstrated it in the most rigorous way,” said Jennifer Lewis, senior author of the study and a professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).

Lewis led the project in her prior position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in collaboration with co-author Shen Dillon, an assistant professor of Materials Science and Engineering there.
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