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UCLA researchers developing batteries the size of a grain of salt

November 2, 2010 |  6:57 pm

A battery that's the size of a grain of salt?

That's the goal for a group of scientists and engineers at UCLA, who are working to develop a tiny version of lithium-ion batteries, which are typically found in laptops, cellphones and iPods.

At this point, the research is still in its early stages. But the technology could one day be used to power miniature electronic devices.

The batteries work because lithium ions move back and forth from a negative electrode to a positive electrode, creating energy. UCLA professor Jane Chang is developing the electrolyte that allows a charge to flow between electrodes for the proposed mini-batteries.

"We need to make the footprint much smaller," Chang said in a statement. She discussed the technology last month at a scientific symposium in Albuquerque. 

The U.S. military, which uses lithium-ion batteries in everything from hand-held electronics to mini-submarines, stands to benefit from the technology. The program is being funded by the Pentagon’s famed Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.

-- W.J. Hennigan