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Nanostructured Paper Leads to Printable Ultracapacitors

Printable batteries are developing as fast as if not faster than printable electronics

1 min read
Nanostructured Paper Leads to Printable Ultracapacitors

Breakthroughs in creating printable ultracapacitors and batteries have been coming fast and furious in the last 18 months.

Perhaps the latest news on the pages of IEEE Spectrum that details how two companies are printing batteries and ultracapacitors is the most promising to date.

The spectrum article reports on a printed solid-state lithium battery developed by Planar Energy Devices that manages to replace the liquid electrolyte typically found in lithium-ion batteries with a ceramic electrolyte. The results are that it performs much better than traditional li-ion batteries, achieving 400 watt-hours of energy per kilogram and can last for tens of thousands recharge cycles.

While this is at least a factor of two better than traditional batteries, for electrical vehicles it still falls short of the 1000Wh/kg target that was suggested by Energy Secretary Steven Chu to be what is needed for a power source to replace fossil fuels in automobiles.

But if Tesla can make a buck selling sports cars with 6,831 lithium-ion batteries that weigh all together about 1500 lbs, surely a car company could do better with the lighter, cheaper to produce, greater energy density and longer life cycle of the batteries being offered by Planar.

The other company highlighted in the article is Paper Battery, which produces an ultracapacitor that uses a nanostructured paper as the separator between the electrodes in the ultraccapcitor. It looks as though initial applications will be in the areas of a medical diagnostic devices and thin film solar panels

If these two companies are any indication, we should expect things to start heating up in the printed battery and ultracapacitor space fairly soon.

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The First Million-Transistor Chip: the Engineers’ Story

Intel’s i860 RISC chip was a graphics powerhouse

21 min read
Twenty people crowd into a cubicle, the man in the center seated holding a silicon wafer full of chips

Intel's million-transistor chip development team

In San Francisco on Feb. 27, 1989, Intel Corp., Santa Clara, Calif., startled the world of high technology by presenting the first ever 1-million-transistor microprocessor, which was also the company’s first such chip to use a reduced instruction set.

The number of transistors alone marks a huge leap upward: Intel’s previous microprocessor, the 80386, has only 275,000 of them. But this long-deferred move into the booming market in reduced-instruction-set computing (RISC) was more of a shock, in part because it broke with Intel’s tradition of compatibility with earlier processors—and not least because after three well-guarded years in development the chip came as a complete surprise. Now designated the i860, it entered development in 1986 about the same time as the 80486, the yet-to-be-introduced successor to Intel’s highly regarded 80286 and 80386. The two chips have about the same area and use the same 1-micrometer CMOS technology then under development at the company’s systems production and manufacturing plant in Hillsboro, Ore. But with the i860, then code-named the N10, the company planned a revolution.

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