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Electronics Production | May 08, 2009

ST and Front Edge Technology cooperate on Next-Generation Battery Technology

STMicroelectronics signed a commercial agreement with Front-Edge Technology (FET), enabling ST to bring FET’s NanoEnergy ultra-thin lithium battery technology to a wide range of new markets and applications.
This new technology is meant to fill the gap created by conventional energy-storage devices not keeping pace with the demanding size and high-density power requirements of today’s cutting-edge electronic devices. The new devices, which are destined for consumer and industrial markets, demand innovative energy-storage and battery technologies. Solid-state thin-film energy cells offer a revolutionary way of storing energy for ‘micro-power’ devices, such as high-end ‘One-Time-Password’ smartcards; battery-assisted RFID (Radio-Frequency ID) tags; wireless sensor networks; real-time clock (RTC) back-up batteries; and multiple medical applications, including hearing aids, automatic insulin pumps and wearable health monitoring systems.

A key advantage of the ultra-thin solid-state battery technology is its physical flexibility, enabling different sizes and shapes of ‘bendable’ batteries, as thin as 200 microns, making it ideal for portable and extremely small form factor devices. Additionally, the battery’s solid electrolyte is Lithium Phosphorus Oxynitride (LiPON), a material originally developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratories. This enables the thin-film FET technology, in comparison with a device with equivalent energy storage capacity, to deliver in the range of 10 to 20 times more power than existing state-of-the-art coin-cell batteries.

FET’s solid-state micro-batteries have been shown to offer longer life, short-circuit prevention for greater safety, and a lower environmental burden than existing battery technologies. Other key characteristics of the FET technology include long cycle life, with more than 1,000 cycles at 50% discharge; fast current charge enabling batteries to be charged to 80% of rated capacity within 15 minutes; and high stability, with a low self-discharge of less than 15% per year.

“There is large and growing gap between the increasingly fast pace of the proliferation and demands of today’s leading-edge portable electronic products and the capabilities of existing energy sources, in performance, operating life and environmental impact,” said Carmelo Papa, Executive Vice President and General Manager of ST’s Industrial and Multisegment Sector (IMS). “As one of the world’s largest and most innovative semiconductor companies, ST has the vision, breadth and market reach to bring FET’s revolutionary ultra-thin battery technology to new industrial and consumer applications.”

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