Cobalt Shortages Ahead


Rapid growth of electric vehicles is creating an enormous demand for cobalt, causing tight supply, high prices and supply chain issues for this critical material. Cobalt is a ferromagnetic metal and one of the key materials used in lithium-ion batteries for cell phones, notebook PCs, battery-electric cars and hybrids. It also is used in alloys and semiconductors. And while the IC industry co... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: Sept. 4


Preventing battery fires Researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Rochester developed a method to prevent lithium-ion batteries from catching on fire when damaged. "In a lithium-ion battery, a thin piece of plastic separates the two electrodes," said Gabriel Veith, a research lead at ORNL. "If the battery is damaged and the plastic layer fails, the electrodes can... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: Aug. 21


Physical neural network Engineers at UCLA built a physical artificial neural network capable of identifying objects as light passes through a series of 3D printed polymer layers. Called a "diffractive deep neural network," it uses the light bouncing from the object itself to identify that object, a process that consumes no energy and is faster than traditional computer-based methods of imag... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: July 10


Heating up EV batteries Researchers from Pennsylvania State University developed a self-heating battery that can charge rapidly in cold conditions, a step they hope could spread adoption of electric vehicles. "Electric vehicles are popular on the west coast because the weather is conducive," said Xiao-Guang Yang, assistant research professor in mechanical engineering, Penn State. "Once you ... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: July 3


Graphene foam devices Scientists at Rice University developed a method for building conductive, three-dimensional objects out of graphene foam, which they say could offer new possibilities for energy storage and flexible electronic sensor applications. The same lab initially created laser-induced graphene, or LIG, in 2014. The process involves heating inexpensive polyimide plastic sheets wi... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: May 8


Cobalt-free cathodes Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, built lithium-ion battery cathodes without cobalt that can store 50% more energy than traditional cobalt-containing cathodes. Currently, lithium-ion battery cathodes use layered structures, which cobalt is necessary to maintain. When lithium ions move from the cathode to anode during charging, a lot of space is left... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: March 27


Equalizing batteries Engineers at the University of Toledo propose a bilevel equalizer technology to improve the life span of batteries by combining the high performance of an active equalizer with the low cost of a passive equalizer. "Whenever we are talking about batteries, we are talking about cells connected in a series. Over time, the battery is not balanced and limited by the weakest ... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: Oct. 31


Battery material supplies Researchers at MIT, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Rochester Institute of Technology conducted an analysis of whether there are enough raw materials to support increased lithium-ion battery production, expected to grow significantly due to electric vehicles and grid-connected battery systems. They conclude that while in the near future there shou... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: Oct. 3


Slowing down photonics Researchers at the University of Sydney developed a chip capable of optical data into sound waves, slowing data transfer enough to process the information. While speed is a major bonus with photonic systems, it's not as advantageous when processing data. By turning optical signals into acoustic, data can be briefly stored and managed inside the chip for processing, re... » read more

Power/Performance Bits: Sept. 19


Healing perovskites A team from the University of Cambridge, MIT, University of Oxford, University of Bath, and Delft University of Technology discovered a way to heal defects in perovskite solar cells by exposing them to light and just the right amount of humidity. While perovskites show promise for low-cost, efficient photovoltaics, tiny defects in the crystalline structure, called traps,... » read more

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