Russian Researchers Publish Study Results on Improving the Power Source of Miniature Devices and Sensors

June 11, 2020 by Luke James

Researchers from Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University have focused on creating a solid-state thin-film battery for miniature devices and sensors.

The research study, which was published on March 12, describes how lithium nickelate and materials based on it are potentially attractive positive electrode materials for lithium-ion batteries due to their higher capacity. Using materials based on lithium nickelate, the Russian researchers approached the creation of a solid-state thin-film battery for use in miniature devices and sensors. 

The creation of such a battery would be a boon for the development of miniaturized devices like smartwatches, IoT electronics, and biosensors, all of which require small and complex power supplies that have a high density and, in an ideal world, are also flexible.

Current lithium-ion battery technology is widely considered by scientists to have reached its limit because it is difficult to reduce the size and control the shape of a power source any further in the required dimensions for an application.

However, the use of microelectronic technologies such as Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) may be able to assist in the production of miniaturized solid-state lithium-ion battery technology with high energy density. 


A scientist working on the Atomic Layer Deposition equipment.

A scientist working on Atomic Layer Deposition Equipment. Image credited to Peter the Great - St. Petersburg Polytechnic University


The Culprit: Liquid Electrolyte  

Using ALD, the Russian research team was able to obtain the cathode material, lithium nickelate, which allows the setting of the thickness of films with high precision. This is according to Dr. Maxim Maximov of the High School of Materials Physics and Technologies, Institute of Mechanical Engineering, Materials and Transport SPbPU.

He added that the research team was able to demonstrate high specific capacities at an increased discharge current which can improve the performance and efficiency of devices, as well as making them smaller. 

The research team believes that the production of thin-film positive electrodes based on lithium nickelate and lithium metal oxides is a “huge step” towards creating efficient solid-state batteries. These are much safer due to the absence of liquid electrolyte which in the past has infamously caused batteries and devices to combust.