Current lithium ion batteries are almost all variations on the same basic form: an inflexible block with electrodes at one end. Because they cannot easily be shaped, they sometimes restrict designers, particularly when it comes to small gadgets with curved surfaces, but the Rice prototypes could change that. "Today, we only have a few form factors of batteries, but this battery can be fabricated to fill the space available," said Singh.
The battery is sprayed on in five layers: two current collectors sandwich a cathode, a polymer separator and an anode. The result is a battery that can be sprayed on to plastics, metal and ceramics.
The researchers are hoping to attract interest from electronics companies, which Singh estimates could put it into production relatively easily. "Airburshing technology is well-established. At an industrial level it could be done very fast," she said.
Mobile Mosh pit
Two MIT researchers formally unveiled over the summer a protocol called State Synchronization Protocol (SSP) and a remote log-in program using it dubbed Mosh (for mobile shell) that's intended as an alternative to Secure Shell (SSH) for ensuring good connectivity for mobile clients even when dealing with low bandwidth connections. SSP and Mosh have been made available for free, on GNU/Linux, FreeBSD and OS X, via an MIT website.
SSH, often used by network and system admins for remotely logging into servers, traditionally connects computers via TCP, but it's that use of TCP that creates headaches for mobile users, since TCP assumes that the two endpoints are fixed, says Keith Winstein, a graduate student with MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL), and Mosh's lead developer. "This is not a great way to do real-time communications," Winstein says. SSP uses UDP, a connectionless, stateless transport mechanism that could be useful for stabilizing mobile usage of apps from Gmail to Skype.
Researchers from MIT, California Institute of Technology and University of Technology in Munich are putting network coding and error-correction coding to use in an effort to measure capacity of wired, and more challengingly, even small wireless networks (read their paper here for the gory details).