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TECHNOLOGY BACKGROUND

Our technology exploits the phenomenon of electrowetting - the ability to electronically manipulate the way liquids behave when in contact with a solid or porous surface.  Water will bead up on a surface that is superhydrophobic*, but can be made to move or spread out by electrowetting.  The same is true for an organic liquid if the surface is superlyophobic.

It is noteworthy that research groups across the country through out several esteemed universities including MIT, Rutgers and the University of Wisconsin are now publicizing their work on electrowetting and superhydrophobicity and superlyophobicity to create so-called “smart” structures on metal, ceramic or polymer surfaces that resist getting dirty, fogging up, or forming ice. They also can be used for displays, lenses and other applications.

By exploiting the same phenomena in our Smart NanoBattery by manipulating the liquid electrolyte via a proprietary silicon structure - a porous membrane - and coupled with unique battery architecture shown above.

 

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Competitive Advantages of the AlwaysReady Smart NanoBattery:

Feature/Benefit

AlwaysReady
Smart NanoBattery

State-of-the-Art
Primary Lithium Battery

State-of-the-Art
Reserve Battery

Unlimited shelf life

X

-

X

Different chemistries in each battery to greatly extend its operating range (extreme hot to extreme cold)

X

-

-

Battery can be programmed and individual cells or groups of cells may be addressed and activated  independently (Power On Command™)

X

-

-

Battery can be disposable (single-use) or rechargeable

X

X

-

Battery can be directly packaged into integrated circuit

X

-

-

Nontraditional form factors possible

X

-

X

Lithium chemistry is possible

X

X

X

Battery can be readily miniaturized

X

-

-

Battery contains no moving parts

X

X

-

Inherently safe

X

-

-

Fast ramp up to power

X

X

-

Batteries can be mass produced using microelectronic  manufacturing techniques and can benefit from economies of scale

X

-

-

Battery corrosion and leakage is not a problem 

X

X

-

Batteries can be made with a “green” option for easier disposal

X

-

-

The AlwaysReady reserve-style battery has proven adaptable to a wide range of chemistries, with the initial development based on zinc manganese dioxide (Zn/MnO2), similar to the typical alkaline battery used in a flashlight or TV remote control, and the current development focused on the higher-energy density, more costly lithium manganese dioxide (Li/MnO2), as found in laptops, cell phones and digital cameras.  The future rechargeable battery is a lithium-based chemistry that can be implemented with the same proven architecture.

These correlate to first launch of a reserve battery, then a primary cell with the Zn/MnO2 or Li/MnO2 chemistries, and later a secondary (rechargeable) battery. At that point, the family of AlwaysReady Batteries will be complete (reserve, primary and secondary) serving a wide range of applications.

As shown in the figure below, in the Reserved or Initial State there is zero output voltage.  The triggerable membrane is the “barrier” that keeps the electrolyte separated from the positive and negative electrodes.  In the Activated State, a trigger has been applied across the membrane to allow the electrolyte to flow into the electrode chamber to start the chemical reaction and hence producing the output voltage (1.5 V for Zn/MnO2 and 3V for Li/MnO2)

.

Basic operating principle of AlwaysReady Smart NanoBattery:

 

Smart NanoBattery Power Management:

A key differentiating feature of the AlwaysReady Smart NanoBattery is Power On Command™.  This feature is the ability of the user to locally or remotely activate the battery, in effect turning it on from an inactive or reserve state.  Prior to activation, the battery's chemicals remain separate, therefore supplying no power.  Activation is initiated on the user’s command causing the chemicals to mix, electrochemical reactions to occur, and power to be supplied to an electronic device.

Our battery’s arrayed cell configuration extends control via Power on Command from a single cell to multiple cells.  The array concept is a method of segmenting the battery into groups of individual cells that can be independently addressed and activated at different times, as needed.  Because they are independent in form and function, each cell in the array can be of a different energy density or even a different chemistry (electrodes and electrolytes).  This potentially allows for a battery array to be built in which individual cells address the unique power requirements of different subsystems, or can adapt to deliver power continuously under varying temperature extremes from very hot to very cold.  In these cases, portions of the battery array are addressed and consumed sequentially as needed, thus preserving remaining power for later use and extending the useful life of the electronic device it is powering. 

As an example to demonstrate extremely long active life, an AlwaysReady Smart NanoBattery that is designed to provide power continuously for ten years can be clustered into an array of identical cells that are designed to turn-on sequentially as one group dissipates and eventually dies.  Just before one group of cells dies it triggers on a neighboring group.  Therefore, three cells will provide up to 30 years (3 x 10 years each) of uninterrupted service.  Six cells will provide up to 60 years.  The effect is shown below for a three-cell array.

In an AlwaysReady Smart NanoBattery consisting of a three-cell array, when the first cell in the battery is activated, it begins producing power.  When it dies, the second cell is triggered.  When it dies, the third cell is turned on.  The battery is fully discharged when all three cells are depleted.

The selective activation of cells can be programmed electronically.   For continuous operation in a changing environment from very hot to very cold, different electrode and electrolyte chemistries can be employed that can be triggered on as needed to match environmental conditions.  This programmable feature can be used effectively to power remotely deployed sensors for military and other specialty applications, as well as implantable medical devices. 

 

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