Micro-Energy Thin-Film Batteries Could Be Power Source of the Future

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. /BUSINESS WIRE/ -- Electronic devices continue to shrink in size due to competitive pressures for more portable electronics. Although the majority of electronic components have been scaled downward, traditional batteries have "failed to keep pace." Oak Ridge Micro-Energy believes it has an answer.

Oak Ridge Micro-Energy Inc. designs and produces thin-film, solid-state batteries for commercial, consumer, industrial, homeland security, government and medical applications. An Oak Ridge Micro-Energy thin-film battery is in production at the company's facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

The thin-film components of the battery are less than 6 micrometers (0.00024 in.) thick and can be applied directly to wafers or integrated circuit packages. They can withstand the pressures and temperatures of tire manufacturing and the high temperatures required in new, environmentally mandated, lead-free semiconductor processing. The Oak Ridge Micro-Energy thin-film battery can be made in any shape or size, and its extraordinary cycle life means that it can be permanently embedded into a system and will last for years. It is readily scalable to fit the smallest of applications.

The Oak Ridge Micro-Energy thin-film battery is a solid-state device, meaning that it does not use a liquid or polymer electrolyte, as other conventional lithium or lithium-ion thin batteries do. This feature allows the battery to withstand temperatures of over 265°C in a discharged state. The battery also can fully recover from long storage in a fully discharged state, and it can withstand extreme hydrostatic pressure and G forces.

The Oak Ridge Micro-Energy thin-film battery is a robust energy storage device that can be easily engineered to fit a wide range of microelectronic products. Unlike conventional batteries, the cost of a Oak Ridge Micro-Energy battery does not increase with reduction in size. The ability to permanently embed the battery into a microelectronic system makes it attractive for low maintenance, portable electronic applications.

There are many and wide ranging applications for of Oak Ridge Micro-Energy thin-film batteries:

  • Embedded tire sensors powered with an Oak Ridge Micro-Energy thin-film battery can, for example, measure and store tire pressure and number of rotations.
  • Oak Ridge Micro-Energy thin-film batteries can be used to power wireless sensors the size of a dime, or much smaller, to detect biological or chemical contaminants and transmit information to a local receiver.
  • Airline baggage tags with Oak Ridge Micro-Energy thin-film batteries embedded inside of adhesive paper along with a transmitter could be used to pinpoint the location of a passenger's baggage.
  • Oak Ridge Micro-Energy has developed a thin-film battery for miniature medical devices, which can be implanted deep inside the human body and enable physicians to assess and treat a variety of medical conditions in a noninvasive manner. The dimensions of the battery for this device are about 0.3 in. by 0.1 in., or about 50 times smaller than the ORME battery designed for powering the wireless diagnostic wafers.
  • The Oak Ridge Micro-Energy thin-film battery can power nonvolatile computer memory. The small form factor can reduce the package size by many times.
  • In smart credit and security cards, an Oak Ridge Micro-Energy thin-film battery embedded in plastic could provide exceptional levels of consumer protection. For example, the cards may contain digitized fingerprints stored in memory or provide real-time balances on a screen powered by an ORME thin-film battery.
  • Active radio frequency identification (RFID) tags powered by an Oak Ridge Micro-Energy thin-film battery do not need line-of-sight configuration, greatly increasing the transmitting range. The RFID tags can also store more information. Imagine an inventory manager being able to sit at his desk, knowing in real time the location of every item in a warehouse.

In the future, additional products will be developed to take advantage of the thin-film battery's small size and outstanding performance as the company continues to develop and improve their product.

In September, Oak Ridge Micro-Energy Inc. announced a successful first manufacturing run of thin-film lithium-ion batteries with better than expected yields. John Bates, Chief Technology Officer of Oak Ridge Micro-Energy, said, "As we continue to improve our pilot line and produce larger quantities, we will be able to deliver batteries into several small specialized markets. Our long-range goal is to find a manufacturing partner who can produce 50 million to 80 million batteries per year required for high-volume markets, such as tire sensors and nonvolatile computer memory chips."

About Oak Ridge Micro-Energy Inc.
Oak Ridge Micro-Energy Inc. develops and produces custom-designed thin-film lithium and lithium-ion batteries ideally suited for a variety of applications where a small power source is needed. The batteries can be fabricated on a variety of substrates, as well as onto chips, chip carriers, or multichip modules. By using the available space on a ceramic package or a silicon die, the battery can provide the required power while occupying otherwise wasted space and adding negligible mass. The company's batteries are intended for applications such as wireless sensors that operate in harsh environments, semiconductor diagnostic wafers, RFID tags, semiconductor nonvolatile memory chips, and advanced medical devices. Initial production will target specialized high-margin markets. Expansion of the company's manufacturing capacity, internally and through strategic partnerships, will allow Oak Ridge Micro-Energy to reduce manufacturing costs and penetrate larger markets, such as active RFID.

The company maintains R&D and manufacturing facilities in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and an additional office in Salt Lake City. Detailed information about Oak Ridge Micro-Energy Inc. can be obtained by visiting the company's Web site.