While chips have gotten increasingly smaller, even low-power silicon usually uses off-chip power supplies because shrinking batteries down is difficult. This new super-small battery could finally put power supplies on the chip—and tiny computational systems anywhere you can imagine.

The new battery has been produced using a combination of 3D holographic lithography and 2D photolithography by researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “We utilized 3D holographic lithography to define the interior structure of electrodes and 2D photolithography to create the desired electrode shape,” explains Hailong Ning, one of the researchers, to PhysOrg. The resulting tiny lithium-ion battery can easily enough muster a 0.5 mA current and light an LED. The researchers claim that the new batteries could be used in distributed wireless sensors and transmitters, as well as implantable medical devices and anything else small that needs an on-board power supply. [PNAS via PhysOrg]