Flow batteries are rechargeable batteries that use a liquid fuel source. And while they’re typically used in large-scale applications, researchers at IBM and ETH Zurich have found a way to make tiny Redox Flow batteries that can provide power to chips.
They can also be stacked in between chips to cool the processors while they’re providing power, since the liquid will dissipate more heat than the battery generates.
The researchers designed a proof of concept battery that’s just 1.5mm thick and which generates 1.4 watts of power per square centimeter of surface space (or about 1 watt per square centimeter when you account for the power it takes to keep the liquid pumping).
It’s unlikely that these tiny batteries will replace the larger Lithium Ion battery packs that power laptops and smartphones anytime soon. It just doesn’t provide enough power… yet.
But the technology could provide a groundwork for others looking to build a version that supplies more power. The chip-cooling battery techniques could also be used in larger batteries for products that could also benefit from a cooling system, such as lasers (which, like CPUs, draw power and generate heat).