Precision Nanobatteries by the Billions

Tiny batteries made in nanopores manage ions and electrons for high power and extended life.

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Image courtesy of Gary Rubloff, University of Maryland

Complete nanobatteries are formed in each nanopore of a dense nanopore array (2 billion per square centimeter), using atomic layer deposition to carefully control thickness and length of multilayer concentric nanotubes, which serve as electrodes at each end.

The Science

Tiny batteries formed inside nanopores demonstrate that properly scaled nanostructures can use the full theoretical capacity of the charge storage material. These nanobatteries delivered their stored energy efficiently at high power (fast charge and discharge) and for extended cycling.

The Impact

Precise structures can be constructed to assess the fundamentals of ion and electron transport in nanostructures for energy storage and to test the limits of three-dimensional nanobattery technologies.


Nanostructured batteries, when properly designed and built, offer promise for delivering their energy at much higher power and longer life than conventional technology. To retain high energy density, nanostructures (such as nanowires) must be arranged as dense “nanostructure forests,” producing three-dimensional nanogeometries in which ions and electrons can rapidly move. Researchers have built arrays of nanobatteries inside billions of ordered, identical nanopores in an alumina template to determine how well ions and electrons can do their job in such ultrasmall environments. The nanobatteries were fabricated by atomic layer deposition to make oxide nanotubes for ion storage inside metal nanotubes for electron transport, all inside each end of the nanopores. The tiny nanobatteries work extremely well: they can transfer half their energy in just a 30 second charge or discharge time, and they lose only a few percent of their energy storage capacity after 1000 cycles. Researchers attribute this performance to rational design and well-controlled fabrication of nanotubular electrodes to accommodate ion motion in and out and close contact between the thin nested tubes to ensure fast transport for both ions and electrons.


Gary Rubloff
University of Maryland
rubloff@umd.edu, (301) 405-3011


This work was performed at the University of Maryland and was supported by the Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage (NEES) Center, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the DOE Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences.


C. Liu, E.I. Gillette, X. Chen, A.J. Pearse, A.C. Kozen, M.A. Schroeder, K.E. Gregorczyk, S.B. Lee, G.W. Rubloff, “An all-in-one nanopore battery array.” Nature Nanotechnology 9, 1031-1039 (2014). [DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2014.247]

P. Braun, RG Nuzzo, “Batteries: Knowing when small is better.” Nature Nanotechnology 9, 962-963, (2014). [DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2014.263]

Related Links

Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage (NEES) EFRC

NEES EFRC News ReleaseExternal link

Video: A Billion Holes can make a BatteryExternal link

“Tiny Batteries Could Revolutionize Green Energy: Nanotechnology could dramatically improve energy storage for electronics, cars, and buildings” National Geographic. November 17, 2014External link

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Program: BES, EFRCs

Last modified: 1/3/2016 12:01:59 PM