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21 Aug 2014  |  maldomao   BREVE         

Hace tiempo que no escribo sobre avances en baterías; hoy traigo una noticia prometedora que publican en Technology Review.

La empresa Applied Materials asegura que ya es capaz de construir equipamiento para producir baterías de estado sólido (con electrolito sólido) de forma mucho más barata.

Resulta que este tipo de baterías, que ya están disponibles para algunos usos muy específicos (para alimentar sensores), tienen bastantes ventajas respecto a las convencionales, pero son muy caras y difíciles de producir para tamaños normales y grandes.

Parece que los smartwatches van a ser los primeros beneficiados por la buena densidad energética de esta tecnología de baterías.

Saco los mejores párrafos de la noticia:

Solid-state batteries, as they’re called, have been available for a while and are used in some wireless sensors, but they have been too expensive to use elsewhere. Applied Materials, one of the world’s biggest equipment suppliers for the semiconductor and display industries, says it can make these batteries much cheaper. This could clear the way for slimmer, longer-lasting smart watches as well as electric cars with a range similar to gas-powered ones.

...

In solid-state batteries the liquid electrolytes normally used in conventional lithium-ion batteries are replaced with solid ones, which makes it possible to replace conventional electrodes with lithium metal ones that hold far more energy. Doing away with the liquid electrolyte, which is flammable, can also improve the safety of batteries, which leads to cost and size savings, particularly in electric vehicles, by reducing the need for complex cooling systems.

...

Making high-quality electrode and electrolyte materials over large areas has been one of the challenges to making the solid-state batteries economically. The batteries are made by successively depositing electrical contacts, electrodes, and the solid electrolyte that separates them, in much the way that the many layers of a display are deposited. If the solid electrolyte has gaps it can lead to short circuits. Applied Materials says it can overcome this as well as other manufacturing challenges.

...

Applied Materials says customers are using its equipment to make batteries, but it won’t disclose who those customers are. The company says, however, that one of the first commercial applications of its equipment will likely be making batteries for wearable devices, such as smart watches, where size is a serious limitation.

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One perennial challenge with solid-state batteries has been that the solid electrolyte, which isn’t as conductive as liquid ones, tends to limit power output. Applied Materials says it is working on ways to improve that conductivity by doping the solid electrolyte, much as you would dope semiconductor materials for chips. The company is also working on ways to deposit the energy-storing materials faster, to enable thick layers that store large amounts of energy.

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