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Posted: May 7, 2009

Agreement Provides STMicroelectronics With Access to Front Edge Technology's Ultra-thin Rechargeable Battery Technology

(Nanowerk News) STMicroelectronics, one of the world's leading semiconductor manufacturers, today announced a commercial agreement with Front-Edge Technology (FET), the California-based developer of next-generation rechargeable batteries, 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."
"Over the past ten years FET has developed NanoEnergy®, the highest energy density thin-film battery technology in the industry, and three years ago we began commercially selling NanoEnergy® batteries in small volumes," said Dr. Simon Nieh, President of FET. "We are truly delighted to team up with one of the largest and most innovative global semiconductor companies to address new opportunities in industrial and consumer markets for thin-film batteries."
ST, which has always been a leader in power technologies, is making significant investments in new energy technologies and nano-materials to develop new miniaturized solutions for energy storage and deliver with a particular emphasis on powering portable electronic products. The R&D group of ST's Industrial and Multisegment Sector (IMS) organization has been working for several years developing know-how and expertise in the field of micro-batteries and micro fuel cells, and has research teams based in Tours, France, and Catania, Italy, working with research institutes in both those countries.
Source: STMicroelectronics (press release)
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