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A benchtop version of the world’s smallest battery – its anode a single nanowire one seven-thousandth the thickness of a human hair – has been created by a team led by Sandia National Laboratories researcher Jianyu Huang. To better study the anode’s characteristics, the tiny rechargeable, lithium-based battery was formed inside a transmission electron microscope (TEM) at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT), a Department of Energy research facility jointly operated by Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories.

Huang said of the work, "This experiment enables us to study the charging and discharging of a battery in real time and at atomic scale resolution, thus enlarging our understanding of the fundamental mechanisms by which batteries work." Because nanowire-based materials in lithium ion batteries offer the potential for significant improvements in power and energy density over bulk electrodes, more stringent investigations of their operating properties should improve new generations of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, laptops and cell phones.

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