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Micro fuel cells made of glass: New source of power

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December 1, 2012 in Technology


(Phys.org)—Engineers at Yale University have developed a new breed of micro fuel cell that could serve as a long-lasting, low-cost, and eco-friendly power source for portable electronic devices, such as tablet computers, smart phones, and remote sensors. The researchers describe the novel device in a paper published online in the journal Small.
An alternative to a battery, a fuel cell is an electrochemical device that combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce energy, giving off only water and heat as byproducts. But the materials and methods commonly used for making micro fuel cells are fragile, inefficient, and expensive.

Major components of the new device are made of bulk metallic glasses (BMGs)—extremely pliable metal alloys that nonetheless are more durable than the metals typically used in micro fuel cells. BMGs can be finely shaped and molded using a comparatively efficient and inexpensive fabrication process akin to processes used in shaping plastics.

“These amorphous metal alloys are amazing materials that can be easily shaped into both large and small nanostructures, yet retain suitable properties for a wide range of electrochemical applications,” said André D. Taylor, an assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering at Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science and a principal investigator of the research. Ryan C. Sekol, a doctoral student in Taylor’s lab, is lead author.

Read more at: http://phys.org

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2 responses to Micro fuel cells made of glass: New source of power

  1. That figures, they only give half the information. Those metal alloys are (MEMS), micro electro mechanical systems. Bulk metalic glass-forming liquids can be molded into complex shapes like plastics, but perform like metals as strong as steel. The alloys are made up of different metals, such as: copper, nickel, titanium, and zirconium. What scientist do is blow mold the alloys at a low temperature/pressure, The bulk metallic glass softens dramatically and flows as easily as plastic but without crystallizing like regular metal. This process of blow molding helps to reshape BMGs into a liquid, without friction, to create numerous shapes and sizes down to the nano scale. This processing technique takes less than a minute to complete for fabricating MEMS.


  2. “amorphous metal” sounds fun, I hope this goes far.

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