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SEPTEMBER 2021 I SMT007 MAGAZINE 19 doing, but are unable to communicate it be- yond their sphere of influence, and without long-term retention of that knowledge. No one will be a designer for life or manufacturing en- gineer for life. ese people move around, their skills and experience go with them, and the knowledge is lost. We see simple examples every day: "Guys, we've been doing electronics manufacturing for 30 years now. Do you really think this is the first time you've ever seen this problem?" Many are stuck in this rut, where we are re-learning the same things over and over, rather than opening up through digitalization. e promise of the benefits of working in the digital realm, with interoperability, is not just to make things a little easier and better, it helps us get to the next level. We're hitting a ceiling now, based on the longevity of the hu- man mind. Digitalization is the ability to learn based on our experience, progressively. In- stead, many are at a stage where we're losing as much as we're gaining, just treading water. We need to break that cycle and use this opportu- nity in the digital realm to remember things and pass them on. Matties: Any final thoughts today, Michael? Ford: I think we've covered everything pretty well. anks. It's been a great opportunity to talk about this. It's great conversation. SMT007 Michael Ford is the senior director of emerging industry strategy for Aegis Software, and an I-Connect007 columnist. To read past columns or contact Ford, click here. With wireless-enabled electronics becoming smaller and more ubiquitous, their designers must constantly find ways for batteries to store more pow- er in less space. And because these devices are also increasingly mobile—in the form of wearables, robots and more—those batteries must be lighter while still being able to withstand the bumps and bruises of everyday life. Worse still, energy density gets exponentially harder to improve upon as a bat- tery gets smaller, partially because larg- er portions of a battery's footprint must be devoted to protective packaging. With that challenge in mind, new re- search from the School of Engineering and Applied Science has shown a new way to build and package microbatter- ies that maximizes energy density even at the smallest sizes. The researchers' key developments were a new kind of current collector and cathode that increase the fraction of materials that store energy while si- multaneously serving as a protective shell. This reduces the need for non- conductive packaging that normally protects a battery's sensitive internal chemicals. "We essentially made current collectors that per- form double duty," says James Pikul, assistant pro- fessor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics and a leader of the study. "They act as both an electron conductor and as the packaging that prevents water and oxygen from get- ting into the battery." (Source: Penn Engineering) Packaging-free Design Quadruples Microbatteries' Energy Density

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