The thin-film battery as a flexible, safe and alternative battery technology
For the power supply of portable devices, the battery will remain indispensable in the future. In the course of technological miniaturization and the simultaneous search for more environmentally friendly solutions, the thin-film battery forms a versatile alternative to the conventional lithium-ion battery. In the consumer sector, it offers a bendable but robust solution for integration into smart gadgets and wearables. As a solid-state battery, it does not leak, has an immense life cycle and also offers a high level of safety - which makes it particularly interesting for medical applications, for example.
Moreover, solid-state thin-film batteries will play a key role in sensor technology in the future. Industrial processes are currently monitored with sensors that detect temperature or pressure changes, for example. Self-sufficient, easily integrated and low-maintenance energy storage systems are needed here. The thin film battery is the ideal solution. Due to the good adaptability and scalability to required energy quantities, unnecessary costs can be reduced and customized solutions can be found.
Status quo of battery technology
Batteries are necessary in everyday private and professional applications. However, due to the constantly advancing miniaturization, currently used battery setups are reaching their physical limits. Here, thin-film batteries open up completely new possibilities for battery-powered scenarios.
Current lithium-ion systems based on liquid electrolytes are convincing due to their excellent performance parameters, but are still expensive, inflexible and, with the organic, highly flammable electrolyte they contain, always pose a high risk to the user. Especially in the field of entertainment or medical technology, safety is the most important criterion for the user. Cost-effective solid-state thin-film batteries can guarantee this.
Flexible and safe: The advantages of thin-film batteries
The positive picture of the thin-film battery is completed by its electrochemical performance parameters. Through the clever choice of the right materials, several thousand charging and discharging cycles can be easily realized with high robustness and thus practically maintenance-free operation.
Multiple applications of thin-film batteries - also in medical technology
The application of thin-film batteries is conceivable in a wide range of scenarios. Particularly in the field of miniaturization, the requirements for high-performance, adaptable energy storage systems are increasing daily. This is where maintenance-free thin-film battery systems can stand out. For example, the Internet-of-Things (IoT) with the necessary sensor network offers countless possibilities for integrating autonomously operating thin-film batteries. Decentralized sensors used to monitor industrial processes (Industry 4.0) can also be powered by flexible storage systems. The cables thus saved provide immense cost savings and a simplification of the operational infrastructure.
Flexible thin-film batteries in particular also have great potential in the field of consumer electronics or wearables. Due to their adaptable shape and robustness, they can be perfectly incorporated into clothing and serve as an energy source for any GPS trackers or ensure the power supply of smart gadgets.
In addition, highly specific fields of application in medical technology can be covered. Here in particular, the safety of the energy storage devices used plays a key role, along with the highest possible mobility. Blood pressure monitors, which are used for 24-hour monitoring and do not allow a stationary energy supply, or blood glucose level measurements with high temporal frequency can be simplified or made possible at all by the use of solid-state thin-film batteries.
The process technology available at Fraunhofer IFAM allows customized solutions to be found for the various application scenarios. Depending on the requirements, our experts can adapt parameters such as cell geometry, electrochemical performance data, or the material system used in individual cases.
The Electrical Energy Storage department, headed by Dr. Julian Schwenzel, is also involved in the synthesis of innovative battery materials of the latest generation, their integration in electrochemical cells, and the characterization of battery cells and modules. Based on many years of experience in the field of battery technology, the Electrical Energy Storage team forms one of the fundamental pillars for the core competence of electromobility at Fraunhofer IFAM.