World's Smallest Battery Built

Monday - 12/20/2010, 1:11pm EST

A benchtop version of the world's smallest battery has been created by a team at Sandia National Lab. Its anode is a single nanowire one seven-thousandth the thickness of a human hair.

The tiny rechargeable, lithium-based battery was formed inside a transmission electron microscope at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, a Department of Energy research facility.

Researchers say, because nanowire-based materials in lithium ion batteries offer the potential for big improvements in power and energy consumption, investigations into their operating properties should improve new generations of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, laptops and cell phones.

An unexpected discovery was that the nanowire rod nearly doubles in length during charging - far more than its diameter increases - disputing a common belief of workers in the field.