At the University of Illinois, it appears there is a penchant for making your devices run better. Recently, we reported on a new development from their Micro and Nanotechnology Lab that makes digital memory use 100 times less energy. Now, we're happy to announce that an interdisciplinary team from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, the Materials Research Laboratory, and the Beckman Institute have developed a battery that "gives you capacitor-like power with battery-like energy." In other words, it can pack a punch if you need it to, and holds the kind of charge you would expect from a good battery.
Until now, you really had to choose between a capacitor that could produce a lot of power for a short time, or a battery that could produce a minimal amount of power for a long time. Consistent with this, your capacitor would recharge fast, while you had to wait around for your battery to return to the land of the living. But when this technology is released to the public, you'll be able to recharge your device - or car - in minutes.
The trick - as usual - is in the detail. In order to be able to produce a lot of power, you need to use a thin film of active material. The University of Illinois team, led by Professor Paul Braun, has used this thin film in an ingenious way: they have made it three-dimensional. The bicontinuous electrode structure (pictured) is designed in such a way that while the thin film of active material is maintained for maximum power and minimum recharge time, you are still able to use the battery as you would in your existing device.
Better yet, if someone comes up with better battery chemistry, it can be applied in this manner, ensuring maximum benefit.
Because you don't always have someone like this around: