What if the batteries had the ability to recharge themselves? Just as on rooftops, a PV surface could convert the sunlight to electricity to charge the storage device.

The rechargeable, ultra-small micro power source.

Sandia, working with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), has developed the Micro Power Source, a system that integrates a lithium-ion-based solid electrolyte battery with an ultrathin PV cell, producing a self-charging battery.

The micro power source is an ultra-small energy harvesting (self-charging) power source that occupies a 1 μL volume, yet possesses a high peak-power density greater than 1,000 W/L. The battery is a solid-state system employing a lithium phosphorus oxynitride (LiPON) electrolyte. The device features

  • Sandia’s Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Applications fabricated ultra-thin PV cells,
  • Front Edge Technology’s thin film rechargeable lithium cells and masking technique for manufacturing thin-film batteries,
  • PNNL’s ultra-thin sealing material, and
  • UCLA Nanofabrication Lab’s assembly and packaging techniques.

The construction of the battery and the PV are based on existing manufacturing technologies that are amenable to volume manufacturing scale-up. The micro power source technology lends itself to a number of commercial applications including active smart cards, self-powered radio frequency identification tags, self-powered portable memory devices, in-situ power for industrial process monitors, and remote untethered sensors and transmitters.

Read more about the Sandia Labs, Front Edge Technology, Inc., Pacific Northwest National Lab, Univ. of California–Los Angeles partnership.