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Researchers at MIT strive to make today’s batteries obsolete

A team of researchers at MIT are working to make today’s batteries as extinct as the dodo bird. The researchers have been using acetylene gas to deposit carbon nanotubes onto silicon. The carbon nanotubes are then able to store as much if not more energy than today’s traditional lead or lithium batteries, but can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times unlike current battery technology which fails after a few thousand recharges at best.

The researchers have also tackled the manufacturing hurdle by depositing the nanotubes on silicon much in the same way current silicon parts are made making mass production more feasible than in the past. One major difference, however, is that the nanotube on silicon batteries actually act more like capacitors then traditional batteries. Capacitors, unlike batteries store less energy and discharge rapidly however can be recharged quickly. The team speculates that if they are able to make a large enough capacitor that it will function much like current batteries do.

Not surprisingly, there are some dissenters to the new technology.  A Researcher from the University of California at Davis has his doubts about the feasibility of such technology and doesn't see it making any significant inroads on existing batteries. Boston.com reports:

Andrew Burke, research engineer at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California at Davis, said that the new capacitors would have to be many times more powerful than any previously created. "I have a lot of respect for those guys, but I have not seen any data," Burke said. "Until I see the data, I'm inclined to be skeptical." Even if Schindall's capacitors work, he doubts they'll transform the electronics industry overnight. Companies have too much invested in today's battery systems, and it would take years before carbon nanotube capacitors could be mass-produced.





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