LAKE WALES, Fla. -- Batteries could be transformed from our slowest growing technology to our fastest growing advanced technology if Ilika Technologies Ltd. (University of Southampton Science Park, Southampton U.K.) can realize its dream of self-powered systems-on-chip (SoCs).
By eliminating the liquid cores of every other battery technology under the sun -- especially the flammable lithium ion (Li-ion) -- into the solid-state micron-thin-layers of an SoC, each chip in an electronic circuit could become self-powered, simplifying printed circuit boards and eliminating the big-iron power supplies required today.
Ilika's solid-state batteries now come in the full range of temperatures (from -40 degrees Celsius up to +150 C.), making them accessible to automotive, industrial IoT and other rugged environments.
ARM and Ilika have teamed to build self-powered system-on-chip beacons which are half way between a wearable and an industrial IoT in order to accurately monitor livestock. (Source: Ilika)
"Our solid-state batteries can now be adapted to all sizes and operating environments," Graeme Purdy, Ilika CEO, told EE Times in advance of the company's extended temperature range announcement. "For instance, Toyota -- one of our earliest partners -- has funded our solid-state battery development efforts for eight years and came up with series of solutions they are now scaling up to produce big batteries for electric automobiles. But they have also screened our materials and helped scale them down to chip size. By 2025, we predict they be in production."
All the same ingredients are used ‐ anode, cathode, electrolyte ‐ but stacked on a solid-state chip to cut costs and lengthen lifetime of the powered device.
The transformation from flammable Li-ion to inflammable solid-state batteries is not going to happen overnight. In fact, the first mass-produced end-user products using them is predicted by Purdy to appear near the end of the decade. The first products to hit the market will likely use free standing solid-state batteries.
Nevertheless, once all the bugs have been worked out, rechargeable solid-state batteries using both solar and vibrational energy harvesting, plus charge-once-and-forget for the 10-year lifetime of the solid-state battery powered product, could become the rule rather than the exception. (Cymbet Corp. in Elk River, Minn., is currently offering development kits for its 250 square millimeter solid-state batteries, which may hit the market even earlier).
Rechargeable modules (right) can have backside integrated photovoltaic cells (middle, upright) constantly recharging solid-state batteries (left, upright) for indefinite lifetimes in the field, here a temperature sensor.
"Our solid-state batteries are based on lithium ion technology, but with solid-state safety, plus twice the energy density. Also, users can charge them in six-times faster than liquid Li-ion ‐ 15 minutes to recharge instead of 1-1/2 hours," Purdy told EE Times.
"Regarding our relationship with Toyota, we jointly own the patents for the bulk batteries suitable for electric vehicles. But Ilika wholly owns the patents for small batteries," Purdy said. "Out patents covert three aspects: the combination of materials compared to conventional lithium ion, secondly the process (evaporation) is patented -- instead of powder to ink-based printing on foil we heat to evaporate at 400 degrees Celcius -- and thirdly we have patented the architecture and our way to combining the different ingredients."
A complete Internet of Things (IoT) device can be integrated with its solid-state battery, here on a daughter-board, or could even be integrated on the same system-on-chip (SoC) as runs a wearable with a 10 year lifetime.
The key, however, to solid-state batteries, according to Purdy, is the use of a silicon anode which eliminates the need for a liquid electrolyte, is easier to encapsulate against the environment, and even if partially exposed, has less of a reaction to air and moisture than liquid electrolyte Li-Ion batteries.
Purdy claims to already have licenses in-hand for industrial IoT makers, using the extended temperature range IP, and from consumer product makers for the normal temperature range IP. In fact, Ilika's business model is never to compete with its licensees, but rather to prove-the-concept of its technology, offer design services and example applications, such as its Stereax M250 battery in a Perpetual Beacon Demonstration.
Wafers full of solid-state batteries make their manufacturing scalable and cheaper yet when ordered in high volumes.
Ilika has also qualified several foundries for its customers to build their chips using its licensed IP, including the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC). However, the company claims that any foundry which routinely deals with compound semiconductors, such as GaAs, SiC, GaN or OLEDS, can also manufacture its solid-state batteries. For instance, Sharp Laboratories of Europe is developing an autonomous energy harvesting power source using Ilika IP.
— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times
Colin, If i am correct Infinite Power solution was acquired by Apple. Sakti3 by Dyson, Seeo by Bosch. Is that right ? Seeo technology was developped to power electric cars and for storing energy in buildings. I guess Bosch is more trying to compete with Tesla technology on Automotive market. STMicroelectronics has licensed the Oak Ridge technology too...but of course it is not a start-up company. Commercial product is EFL700A39...
Thanks for the tips on Quantumscape. They seem to have missed VW's July 2015 deadline for announcing their intension to use the technology (unless they are intensionally mum--but if so why announce you are making a decision by July 2015 and then let it pass by unannounced). The blog says from the patent filing "this adds up to a battery with a solid-state electrolyte rather than a conventional liquid electrolyte" which sounds speculative but promising. I can't get the company to return my calls, which does not seem to be consistent will landing a big deal with VW--unless as you say they are in complete stealth mode. My guess is that they have a solution looking for a problem. Thanks again for the tip!
But, years after VW invested in them, I haven't heard a peep, which is pretty suspicious. Either they are in total stealth mode or their technology (like many new technologies) isn't working out as well as they had hoped.
Regarding cost, these guys will only tell me goals in terms of appliations. But in general, they usually start with military and medial applications so they can concentrate on just getting it to work no matter the cost. Once proven out, they turn to optimization steps to lower costs for high-volume applications. None of those mentioned are to that state yet (except maybe Cymbet which is 17 years old with over 70 million and counting in R&D).
As a product designer, it's helpful to hear about cost estimates (no matter what the answer is). For instance, if the company has no idea what the cost in volume will be, it's very far from commecialization. If they know a volume cost target, that number can inform us which applications make sense. For instance, high unit cost relative to normal batteries = medical, military, industrial while low cost = consumer goods.
Thanks for the comment. Amprius is using a silicon anode, like Ilika, but is printing it roll-to-roll fashion which to me is putting the cart before the horse in terms of developing a viable battery. They also do not mention using a solid-state electyrolyte. Likewise neither Pellion nor Quantumscape mention a solid-state electrolyte, thus none of them really belong in this story. (Also Quantumscape takes so long to bring a single web splash page with no information that I suspect they don't even have the money to host on anything but an old PC). Nevertheless, I've made queries to all three and will report back anything interesting. Again, thanks for the heads-up on these companies.