by David Manners
Wednesday 9 May 2007
STMicroelectronics (ST) expects to be manufacturing micro fuel cells for mobile phone handsets in 2009, the company said at the IEF2007 in Athens last week.
“We are developing micro fuel cells for mobile phones and then for the laptop market,” Salvatore Coffa, from the R&D department of the industrial and multi-segment sector at ST told the meeting. “We hope to have this in production by 2009.”
Coffa said the research is moving towards flexible substrates using PCBs for fuel cells delivering thin-film micro-batteries.
US research has suggested that fuel cell batteries based on sugar as a source of energy could be ready to power commercial handsets three to five years.
Another major focus of research at ST is how to get all-plastic systems into manufacture. Smart systems on silicon would include sensors, power generation unit (for example, a solar cell), display, antenna, RF, signal/data processing and fluidics.
Achieved channel lengths for plastic circuits are 200-400µm, said Coffa, with ST targeting 10-40µm.
ST envisages producing such circuits on plastic rolls. Commercialisation is thought to be three years away.