Technology

mphase battery technology exploded view

Our technology exploits the phenomenon of electrowetting – the ability to electronically manipulate the way liquids behave when in contact with a solid or porous surface. Water will bead up on a surface that is superhydrophobic, but can be made to move or spread out by electrowetting. The same is true for an organic liquid if the surface is superlyophobic.

It is noteworthy that research groups across the country and at several esteemed universities including MIT, Rutgers and the University of Wisconsin are now publicizing their work on electrowetting and superhydrophobicity and superlyophobicity to create so-called “smart” structures on metal, ceramic or polymer surfaces that resist getting dirty, fogging up, or forming ice. They also can be used for displays, lenses and other applications.

Bringing Nanotechnology to the Market

We are committed to bringing this technology to the marketplace as rapidly as possible.  Nanotechnology will enable military applications, consumer products and advanced systems with amazing new capabilities for long life and miniature size because of its unique characteristics.

Traditional Reserve Battery Technology

Many applications require a reserve battery. Typical implementations use a mechanical mechanism to combine the materials to create the battery. These technologies have a long shelf life, high reliability, high power densities, wide range of chemistries and wide operational range. However, there are several problems:

  • Cannot be easily miniaturized
  • Incompatible with semiconductor processes (Cannot be integrated onto “chips”.)
  • Based upon mechanical activation, are slow to ramp up power.
  • Have to maintain separate electrolyte storage and activation mechanism taking up internal space.
  • Often are expensive.

Nanotechnology Will Enable a Virtually Unlimited Shelf Life, Easy Miniaturization, and Inexpensive Mass Production

A battery depends upon a chemical reaction. A variety of chemistries can be used. Nanotechnology provides a unique mechanism to combine the chemicals and control the characteristics of the reaction. Using tubes to provide a “Superhydrophobic NanoStructured Surface” atop of which can be placed an electrolytet.

The electrolyte sits above the tubes and with careful engineering the electrolyte can be made to fall within the space between the tubes encountering a greatly increased surface area and interacting with the tubes themselves to causing current to flow. The fall can be engineered to occur upon a variety of stimuli: voltage, RF and/or others. We believe the primary advantages of this technology include:

  • Long shelf life
  • Easy to miniaturize
  • Quick ramp up to full power
  • Compatible with Semiconductor Processing
  • High Power and Energy Density
  • Wide range of chemistries can be used
  • Inexpensive to mass produce

This technical paper – Nano Grass Tech White Paper – describes the technology in more detail.

Upon external stimulus the electrolyte spreads over the surface, essentially creating battery action.


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Competitive Advantages of the mPhase Technologies Smart NanoBattery

Feature/Benefit

Smart NanoBattery

State-of-the-Art

Primary Lithium Battery

State-of-the-Art

Reserve Battery

Unlimited shelf life

X

X

Different chemistries in each battery to greatly extend its operating range (extreme hot to extreme cold)

X

Battery can be programmed and individual cells or groups of cells may be addressed and activated  independently (Power On Command™)

X

Battery can be disposable (single-use) or rechargeable

X

X

Battery can be directly packaged into integrated circuit

X

Nontraditional form factors possible

X

X

Lithium chemistry is possible

X

X

X

Battery can be readily miniaturized

X

Battery contains no moving parts

X

X

Inherently safe

X

Fast ramp up to power

X

X

Batteries can be mass produced using microelectronic  manufacturing techniques and can benefit from economies of scale

X

Battery corrosion and leakage is not a problem

X

X

Batteries can be made with a “green” option for easier disposal

X

The mPhase Smart Nanobattery has proven adaptable to a wide range of chemistries, with the initial development based on zinc manganese dioxide (Zn/MnO2), similar to the typical alkaline battery used in a flashlight or TV remote control, and the current development focused on the higher-energy density, more costly lithium manganese dioxide (Li/MnO2), as found in laptops, cell phones and digital cameras. The future rechargeable battery is a lithium-based chemistry that can be implemented with the same proven architecture.

These correlate to first launch of a reserve battery, then a primary cell with the Zn/MnO2 or Li/MnO2 chemistries, and later a secondary (rechargeable) battery. At that point, the family of mPhase Smart Nanobatteries will be complete (reserve, primary and secondary) serving a wide range of applications.

As shown in the figure below, in the Reserved or Initial State there is zero output voltage. The triggerable membrane is the “barrier” that keeps the electrolyte separated from the positive and negative electrodes. In the Activated State, a trigger has been applied across the membrane to allow the electrolyte to flow into the electrode chamber to start the chemical reaction and hence producing the output voltage (1.5 V for Zn/MnO2 and 3V for Li/MnO2)

Basic operating principle of the Smart NanoBattery:

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Smart NanoBattery Power Management:

A key differentiating feature of the mPhase Technologies Smart NanoBattery is Power On Command™. This feature is the ability of the user to locally or remotely activate the battery, in effect turning it on from an inactive or reserve state. Prior to activation, the battery’s chemicals remain separate, therefore supplying no power. Activation is initiated on the user’s command causing the chemicals to mix, electrochemical reactions to occur, and power to be supplied to an electronic device.

Our battery’s arrayed cell configuration extends control via Power on Command™ from a single cell to multiple cells. The array concept is a method of segmenting the battery into groups of individual cells that can be independently addressed and activated at different times, as needed. Because they are independent in form and function, each cell in the array can be of a different energy density or even a different chemistry (electrodes and electrolytes). This potentially allows for a battery array to be built in which individual cells address the unique power requirements of different subsystems, or can adapt to deliver power continuously under varying temperature extremes from very hot to very cold. In these cases, portions of the battery array are addressed and consumed sequentially as needed, thus preserving remaining power for later use and extending the useful life of the electronic device it is powering.

As an example to demonstrate extremely long active life, a  Smart NanoBattery that is designed to provide power continuously for ten years can be clustered into an array of identical cells that are designed to turn-on sequentially as one group dissipates and eventually dies. Just before one group of cells dies it triggers on a neighboring group. Therefore, three cells will provide up to 30 years (3 x 10 years each) of uninterrupted service. Six cells will provide up to 60 years. The effect is shown below for a three-cell array.

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In a Smart NanoBattery consisting of a three-cell array, when the first cell in the battery is activated, it begins producing power. When it dies, the second cell is triggered. When it dies, the third cell is turned on. The battery is fully discharged when all three cells are depleted.

The selective activation of cells can be programmed electronically. For continuous operation in a changing environment from very hot to very cold, different electrode and electrolyte chemistries can be employed that can be triggered on as needed to match environmental conditions. This programmable feature can be used effectively to power remotely deployed sensors for military and other specialty applications, as well as implantable medical devices.

Download Articles:

Power Sources Conference – PowerSources_Battery_Conf_June_2006
Bell Labs Tech Journal – BLTJ Nano
Battery Architecture – Nano Structure
NJTC OUTLOOK — NJ Tech News 10-08 Companies to Watch
Nanonails Langmuir – Nanonails Langmuir 2008