Superlattice Power, Inc. is all about improving on a concept that has a history of well over two centuries, yet a concept that may be vital to future world development. Many historians would argue that it began in 1748, when none other than Benjamin Franklin first used the word “battery”. He was using it to describe a series of glass and lead plates he had developed, which, when charged, fired off a substantial spark, much like a battery of guns. But it was the early Italian physicist Alessandro Volta who, in 1800, developed the first practical electric cell, a collection of zinc and copper plates able to produce a continuous flow of electricity.
By 1859, French inventor Gaston Plante had developed the lead acid battery, still used in cars today, including some all-electric cars. In fact, electric cars became the first major market for the new batteries, and, by the early 1900s, electric cars actually outnumbered gasoline powered cars. Part of this was due to the inherent complexity of the internal combustion engine, making the earliest versions a major undertaking to operate. They were difficult to start, labor intensive to maintain, smoky and noisy. The all-electric cars of the time had none of those drawbacks.
But, over time, many of the problems of gasoline cars were overcome, allowing the superior power and range of the gasoline car to eventually drive the all-electrics off the road. The old lead acid batteries simply couldn’t match the performance of fossil fuels.
But battery technology continued to develop. The first commercial rechargeable lithium-ion battery, offering one of the best energy to weight ratios, no memory effect, and less energy loss between uses, was introduced by Sony in 1991, revolutionizing consumer electronics. For the first time in decades, it began to look like there might be technologies that would once again allow the electric car to become a real market, especially with the increased pressures in the U.S. to curb emissions and reduce dependence on foreign oil. But safety and other issues with lithium ion batteries meant there was still work to be done.
Then, in 1996, the first lithium ion polymer battery was released, holding their electrolyte in a solid polymer composite instead of a liquid solvent, offering extremely low profile (as thin as a credit card), scalability to almost any size, and improved safety. Progress was being made in the drive to create a battery that could power a competitive all-electric car, and the goal since then has been to come up with a way to increase energy capacity of the Li-polymer battery, while reducing environmental and cost concerns.
This is where Superlattice Power comes in. The company has come up with a better way of structuring the Li-polymer battery, using elements and specialty transition metals that make the resulting battery safer, more environmentally friendly, and less expensive, while allowing it to accommodate more lithium and more energy. Until now, electric cars had to be loaded down with many expensive batteries to get high-range performance. The goal of Superlattice is a small-volume, affordable, and lightweight battery package that will allow an all-electric vehicle to go 200 miles on a single charge. It’s a goal that for the first time in history is reachable.
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