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Primary and Secondary Three Dimensional Microbatteries

  • Author(s): Cirigliano, Nicolas
  • Advisor(s): Dunn, Bruce
  • et al.
Abstract

Today's MEMS devices are limited more so by the batteries that supply their power than the fabrication methods used to build them. Thick battery electrodes are capable of providing adequate energy, but long and tortuous diffusion pathways lead to low power capabilities. On the other hand, thin film batteries can operate at significant current densities but require large surface areas to supply practical energy. This dilemma can be solved by either developing new high capacity materials or by engineering new battery designs that decouple power and energy.

Three dimensional batteries redesign traditional configurations to create nonplanar interfaces between battery components. This can be done by introducing hierarchical structures into the electrode shape. Designs such as these provide a maximum surface area over which chemical reactions can occur. Furthermore, by maintaining small feature sizes, ion diffusion and electronic transport distances can remain minimal. Manipulating these properties ensures fast kinetics that are required for high power situations. Energy density is maximized by layering material in the vertical direction, thus ensuring a minimal footprint area.

Three dimensional carbon electrodes are fabricated using basic MEMS techniques. A silicon mold is anisotropically etched to produce channels of a predetermined diameter. The channels are then filled using an infiltration technique with electrode slurry. Once dried, the mold is attached to a current collector and etched using a XeF2 process. Electrodes of varying feature sizes have been fabricated using this method with aspect ratios ranging from 3.5:1 to 7:1. 3D carbon electrodes are shown to obtain capacities over 8 mAh/cm2 at 0.1 mA/cm2, or nearly 700% higher than planar carbon electrodes. When assembled with a planar cathode, the battery cell produced an average discharge capacity of 40 J/cm2 at a current density of 0.2 mA/cm2. This places the energy density values slightly less than thick-film microbatteries but with power density values larger than thin-film batteries. A 3D zinc-air battery was also fabricated by electrodepositing zinc into a silicon mold. This battery obtained over 12 mAh/cm2 and utilized 93% of the available material.

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