Bruce Dunn is a Professor of Materials Science at UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. Follow him around UCLA's campus as he discusses 3-dimensional batteries and demonstrates fuel cells powered by sugar.
Ever since the beginning of the age of “electrification,” scientists and engineers have struggled with a fundamental problem: How do you store electricity until you need it?
One way is in a battery, but batteries are too heavy and expensive, and they are so large they dictate the size of many things that use them.
Today’s batteries are two-dimensional, with a layer of anode, a layer of cathode and a layer of electrolyte. Dunn is working in the third dimension, which consists of “an array of pins that are all sort of sticking up in the air. So the area they take up is pretty small, but they go up into a third dimension,” providing more storage space for the chemical energy that will convert to electrical energy.
Dunn says he can build batteries so small they will fit on a semiconductor chip and power incredibly small devices. With these and many other projects, it’s clear that wherever and however we get our energy in the future, UCLA will be in the forefront of the science — and that’s the kind of power we can all enjoy.