Chemical engineers at the University of Illinois have developed the world’s smallest fuel cell. At just 3mm across, the cell could replace standard graphite and lithium ion batteries in our portable devices, allowing them to become even more compact and pocket-friendly. The small hydrogen fueled cell is capable of storing far more energy in the same space than a standard battery.
The major downside to current fuel cell technology is that the cost to produce them is much greater than the cost to manufacture regular batteries. The University of Illinois team, however, managed to solve that problem with their tiny hydrogen cell.
The cell itself is comprised of a central chamber containing metal hydride, around which is a thin, porous membrane that allows water to enter the chamber where it reacts with the hydride and forms hydrogen. As the hydrogen is depleted, an electrical current is generated.