Technology Roundup: Booming EReaders in 2010, Ionic Batteries, Batteryless Neural Sensing Chip

1. MIT Technology Review reports on the work of Arizona based Fluidic Energy who are working toward development of a metal-air battery that relies on ionic liquids, instead of an aqueous solution, as its electrolyte.

The company aims to build a Metal-Air Ionic Liquid battery that has up to 11 times the energy density of the top lithium-ion technologies for less than one-third the cost. Cody Friesen, a professor of materials science at Arizona State and founder of Fluidic Energy, says the use of ionic liquids overcomes many of the problems that have held back metal-air batteries in the past.

The research team will target energy densities of at least 900 watt-hours per kilogram and up to 1,600 watt-hours per kilogram in the DOE-funded ($5 million) project.

The problem with ionic liquids is that they’re still made in small quantities, making them expensive compared to many other solvents used to dissolve salts. “But some people are making ionic liquids now out of things that are already known and produced in high quantities, like detergents,” says Wilkes.

2. A tiny radio chip implanted in a moth harvests power and senses neural activity.

Electrical engineers at the University of Washington have developed an implantable neural sensing chip that needs less power. Other wireless medical devices, such as cochlea or retinal implants, rely on inductive coupling, which means the power source needs to be centimeters away. The new sensor platform, called NeuralWISP, draws power from a radio source up to a meter away.

3. In 2008 1.1 million e-readers with e-paper displays were sold and in 2010 that number will rise to about 6 million, according to market analysis firm MediaIdeas

4. Forbes reports that Google Wave is being developed into a business collaboration system by SAP