Nanoscale batteries use water-splitting technology

Inside modern cell phones are billions of nanoscale switches that flip on and off, allowing the phone to function. These switches, called transistors, are controlled by an electrical signal that is delivered via a single battery. However, each time a signal is piped from the battery to a component, some power is lost on the journey. Coupling each component with its own battery would be a much better setup, minimizing energy loss and maximizing battery life, but batteries are not yet small enough to permit this arrangement.

Now, researchers including DMSE Professor Geoff Beach have made headway in developing nanoscale batteries that use water-splitting technology. The battery gains its charge by interacting with water molecules present in the air. When a water molecule comes into contact with the reactive, outer metal section of the battery, it splits into its parts--one molecule of oxygen and two of hydrogen. The hydrogen molecules are trapped in the battery and can be stored until they are ready to used, and the battery is "charged." To release the charge, the reaction reverses. 

These batteries deliver a faster charge, have a longer life, and waste less energy; they are also relatively easy to fabricate and adapt.