Market Overview

New Battery Technologies Could Dramatically Change Electronics Market

Ever consider how much we depend on batteries on a daily basis – and how disruptive a dead or weak battery can be?

Cell phones, lap top computers – and perhaps even your car, if you drive an electric/hybrid – cannot function without long-lasting, rechargeable batteries.

It's shocking news, but battery technology is still in its infancy. However, that technology is going through a major and rapid evolution; which in turn could affect a wide spectrum of electronic products we all rely on.

Just this week, a research team from Stanford University and the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory said they've developed the first self-healing battery electrode.

Related: Tesla Updates & Expands Battery Supply Agreement with Panasonic

The breakthrough, according to a Stanford press release, could dramatically improve a battery's storage capacity and performance, “opening a new and potentially commercially viable path for making the next generation of lithium ion batteries for electric cars, cell phones and other devices.”

Meanwhile, Ford (NYSE: F), the U.S. Department of Energy and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and other groups invested in the $8 million battery research laboratory that opened last month at the University of Michigan.

The facility will test new battery technologies, to help industries determine which pilot projects are the most durable, cost-efficient and lightweight ahead of any production commitments.

“This lab will give us a stepping-stone between the research lab and the production environment, and a chance to have input much earlier in the development process,” Ted Miller, who guides Ford's battery research, said in a press statement. “This is sorely needed, and no one else in the auto industry has anything like it.”

Related: Steve Minnihan: Lithium-Ion To Take The Lead As Battery Technologies Focus on Backup Markets

And earlier this year, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced the development of a new lithium-ion battery technology that is reportedly 2,000 times more powerful than current batteries.

Those researchers, according to the ExtremeTech web site, say their development could be more than an evolutionary step in battery development but “a new enabling technology… it breaks the normal paradigms of energy sources. It’s allowing us to do different, new things.”

And what's more, these new batteries are small – supposedly the most powerful microbatteries ever documented.
“This is a whole new way to think about batteries,” William King, the mechanical science and engineering professor who lead the research group, said in a university press release.

“A battery can deliver far more power than anybody ever thought,” he continued. “In recent decades, electronics have gotten small. The thinking parts of computers have gotten small. And the battery has lagged far behind. This is a microtechnology that could change all of that. Now the power source is as high-performance as the rest of it.”

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