How to Build a Safer, More Energy-Dense Lithium-ion Battery

Chipmaking techniques contribute to a three-dimensional battery design that outperforms today’s best cells

11 min read
Enovix 3D Silicon Lithium-ion Battery
Stacked Deck: This cutaway view of an Enovix 3D Silicon lithium-ion rechargeable battery prototype has three stacked 1-millimeter-thick cells.
Photo: Enovix Corp.

Hardly a month passes without shocking news of lithium-ion batteries catching fire: Laptops are torched, airlines are grounded, hoverboards go up in flames. The 2016 fires inside Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 smartphone led to a $US 5 billion recall and then to a discontinuation of the model, moves that together cut Samsung’s market capitalization by many billions.

In January 2017, after months of speculation, Samsung announced that two separate design problems created the battery malfunctions that caused some of the devices to overheat. That different design flaws can produce the same catastrophic outcome underlines the inherently unstable nature of today’s Li-ion batteries. Any mobile product incorporating them is thus potentially unsafe.

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2022—The Year the Hydrogen Economy Launched?

The Inflation Reduction Act and the war in Ukraine pump billions into clean hydrogen R&D

5 min read
A man in a blue lab coat looks at equipment in a lab

A technician at Plug Power in Concord, Mass., secures a connector before a test of a hydrogen electrolyzer on 5 July 2022.

Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Among the technological visions that seem perpetually futuristic (think commercial nuclear fusion and maglev trains), the hydrogen economy has always been tantalizing. Hydrogen produced from renewable energy or nuclear power, with minimal greenhouse-gas emissions, could be piped or transported pretty much anywhere, using mostly existing infrastructure. It could power trucks, cars, planes, and ships and generate electricity, either in fuel cells or combustion turbines. In short, it could do anything fossil fuels do now, but with substantially reduced climate impact.

Now, after decades of false starts and overly optimistic projections, several factors are giving an unprecedented lift to clean hydrogen. In the United States, sweeping legislation capped a series of moves by the country’s Department of Energy (DOE) over the past year to drive down the cost of low-carbon hydrogen and stimulate demand for the fuel. And in Europe, a looming fossil-fuel crisis has sent officials scrambling to find alternatives to the 155 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas that EU countries imported in 2021.

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How Big Robotic Dreams Mesh With Viral Videos

Boston Dynamics’s founder thinks creatively with $400 million AI Institute

12 min read
Marc Raibert, an older white man with a bald head and a short white beard and glasses, gestures as he speaks on a stage. He is wearing formal pants and a flower-print short sleeve shirt.

Marc Raibert, founder and chairman of Boston Dynamics, speaks at a Hyundai Motor Group news conference during CES 2022 in Las Vegas.

Steve Marcus/Reuters/Alamy

Last week, Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics announced an initial investment of over US $400 million to launch the new Boston Dynamics AI Institute. The Institute was conceptualized (and will be led) by Marc Raibert, the founder of Boston Dynamics, with the goal of “solving the most important and difficult challenges facing the creation of advanced robots.” That sounds hugely promising, but of course we had questions—namely, what are those challenges, how is this new institute going to solve them, and what are these to-be-created advanced robots actually going to do? And fortunately, IEEE Spectrum was able to speak with Marc Raibert himself to get a better understanding of what the Institute will be all about.

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Accelerate Time to Market with Calibre nmLVS Recon Technology: A New Paradigm for Circuit Verification

Improve LVS circuit verification productivity in early-stage SoC integration and reduce time to market

1 min read
Accelerate Time to Market with Calibre nmLVS Recon Technology: A New Paradigm for Circuit Verification

One thing is clear…tapeouts are getting harder, and taking longer. As part of a growing suite of innovative early-stage design verification technologies, the Calibre nmLVS Recon tool enables design teams to rapidly examine dirty and immature designs to find and fix high-impact circuit errors earlier and faster, leading to an overall reduction in tapeout schedules and time to market.

Learn more in this technical paper.