Scientists at MIT, Intel and other facilities are researching microstructures in hopes of replacing lithium-ion batteries with nanoscale ultrapowerful capacitors. If successful, the new materials could be mass produced in volumes to power systems ranging from mobile devices to electric vehicles to smart grid storage units.

According to EE Times, Intel researchers have been working on “ultracapacitors with a greater energy density than today’s lithium batteries.” Intel is looking into producing these nanoscale ultracapacitors in high-volume manufacturing.

“It’s way too early to announce any results, but we are taking what we think is a fresh look at building ultracapacitors using our expertise in nanomaterials fabrication and high volume manufacturing,”says Intel lab director Tomm Aldridge.

MIT’s Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity is working on a multitude of micro- and nano-scale manufacturing techniques. For example, researchers at the Precision Compliant Systems Laboratory at MIT are looking into multi-axis nanopositioning systems.

The PCSL describes nanopostitioners as “electromechanical systems that position and orient components with [nanometer]-level accuracy.” While not directly related to the manufacture of nanoscale ultracapacitors, this technology may be able to include Intel’s nano-scale ultracapacitors on smaller-scale circuit boards, making electronics smaller.