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Researchers: Fuel cells on-a-chip may replace small batteries

Posted: 08 Apr 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:solid-oxide? fuel cells? fuel cells on-a-chip? hydrogen-alternative fuels?

Harvard University researchers recently demonstrated a wafer containing 145 solid-oxide fuel cells to prove that fuel cells on-a-chip could replace small batteries.

The research team, led by professor and principal investigator Shriram Ramanathan, had previously proven the concept of fabricating thin-film membranes for solid-oxide fuel cells, but only at sizes too small to replace small batteries. Now the team, in collaboration with SiEnergy Systems LLC, an Allied Minds company based in Boston, has demonstrated that the technology can successfully be scaled up.

The team fabricated the tiny fuel-cells with 100nm-thick membranes on chips that scaled up their area from 100 microns to 5mm wide, achieving a power density of 155mW per sq cm (at 510C).

5mm wide wafer

Harvard was able to pack 145 thin-film fuel cell batteries on a single wafer.

Next the team plans to fabricate nanostructured anodes for hydrogen-alternative fuels and microstructured electrodes, which together should enable the tiny fuel cells to replace small batteries.

Funding for the project was provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Harvard University Center for Nanoscale Systems, which is a member of the NSF's National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network.

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