UCI Professor Receives Grant to Advance C-MEMS Batteries

By Anna Lynn Spitzer

04.13.05 – Marc Madou, Chancellor’s Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UCI, and a Calit2 academic participant, was one of seven recipients this month of a grant from the Center for Commercialization of Advanced Technology. CCAT presents the awards for technologies that address a broad range of needs deemed priorities by the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Maritime and Land Security. The organization’s goal is to help introduce innovative homeland security technologies to the military and commercial marketplaces.


Professor Marc Madou
Marc Madou

Madou was awarded $75,000 for product development and market study of his reconfigurable three-dimensional Li-ion micro-batteries based on Carbon Micro-Electro Mechanical Systems (C-MEMS) technology. The technology has the potential to solve many problems inherent in current-generation portable batteries, including allowing for higher capacities, faster charging times, higher current output and the ability to adapt to changing power demands.


Portable device technology has advanced rapidly, but the battery technology needed to power these devices has lagged, according to Benjamin Park, a mechanical and aerospace engineering graduate student working in Madou’s lab. Because of the way the C-MEMS battery is fabricated, custom CMOS switching and power management circuitry can be integrated into it, allowing switching between parallel (higher current) and serial (higher voltages) configurations. This allows the battery to respond to different power demands and be more readily adapted to different applications. “Batteries currently available on the market do not have this ability to react to power demand,” says Park.


The battery also requires fewer assembly steps than existing batteries; at present, it is in commercial development with Carbon Microbattery Co. Madou hopes to have a prototype ready within nine months, and a market-ready product within two years.


“This award is kind of a first, because not only am I receiving funds for the technology itself, but CCAT also helps to market the product,” Madou says. “They actually connect us with contacts in the government who might be interested in using the technology.”


Madou and his research group have been working on the batteries for the past couple of years. “It’s all happened here at UCI,” he says.