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Prieto's nanotech innovation makes possible high-energy batteries that charge in minutes

May 28, 2012

For me, and probably for every tech user out there, there are two major gripes with smartphone batteries.

First, they drain down to empty in no time; second, it can take hours to recharge them again. Well, Prieto, a Colorado-based startup, claims that it has developed a technology that could solve my two gripes, and revolutionize the battery market in the process.

Prieto’s objective is to manufacture and sell a new type of lithium-ion battery that lasts up to five times longer than standard batteries. Moreover, the technology supposedly allows for super-fast recharge times as well. According to GigaOm, the company, which is the brainchild of Colorado State Chemistry professor Amy Prieto, recently raised $5.5 million in funding to develop the technology.

Like many breakthroughs in science over the last years, Prieto’s battery design makes use of nanotechnology. Tiny copper wires make up the anode of the battery. Lithium-ion batteries usually procure electrical energy from a chemical reaction created when lithium ions travel from the anode of a battery to the cathode through an electrolyte. Prieto’s battery is ‘solid state’, meaning that the electrolyte is not a liquid, but a polymer. The nanowires greatly increase the surface area of the anode, thereby allowing a greater amount of lithium ions to be stored.

An extra distinctive feature of the battery is the fact it works in ‘3D’, meaning that the cathode and anode are intertwined. Prieto says this design gives the battery higher power density, longer life, and very impressive charging times. Since there is no electrolyte in the battery design, many of the conventional toxic chemicals are not present, making Prieto’s invention eco-friendly too.

Right now, the technology remains in the development stage and will require stringent testing and analysis before it can reach manufacturing. Prieto’s ultimate goal is to see their innovative technology applied in smartphones, general gadgets, and electrically powered vehicles.

Here is a promotional video from Prieto which better explains the technology: