Electronic Components Supply Chain

US Japan critical minerals agreement

US Japan critical minerals agreement

The US and Japan agreed last week to strengthen their supply chains of critical minerals like cobalt, lithium and nickel.

The agreement

In the agreement, signed on March 28, the partners agreed to not impose export duties between the US and Japan on critical minerals. They also said they would take action to address non-market policies of other countries that impact the critical minerals trade.

As the US diversifies its trading partners, they risk further complications in its critical minerals supply chain.

As part of the agreement the investments made by foreign powers in the industry will be reviewed. The allies will also upgrade their
information-sharing and enforcement in relation to labor rights violations.

Trade Representative for America Katherine Tai said Japan was a valued trading partner. She said the partnership
was a welcome moment to strengthen the critical minerals supply chain.

Japan’s Ambassador to the US, Tomita Koji, added that securing critical minerals was vital. This, he said, was partly due to the
increased demand for electric vehicles and the batteries powering them.


The two countries made other trade agreements in relation to the semiconductor industry. The countries made an agreement in July last year to create a joint research center for next-generation semiconductors.

The agreement was brought in for similar reasons, to soften America’s relationship China.

The US and Japan said during the launch that they want to establish supply chain resilience in the sector, and said they would build a strong battery supply chain.

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Electronic Components

Nuclear waste batteries

Nuclear waste batteries

The world is edging more and more towards sustainable energy sources, including the potential return of nuclear energy. However, with any future source of power we also have to consider any waste output that these would generate.

So how great would it be to create sustainable, long-lasting energy sources from the waste of another energy source? That’s what experts are hoping to do with nuclear waste.

Waste not want not

One of the main issues with using nuclear energy is the large amounts of radioactive waste that are generated. Compared to other kinds of waste, radioactive is much worse for people’s health and the environment, and harder to contain.

Radioactive diamond batteries use the decay of radioactive waste to generate energy. The betavoltaic device is powered by nuclear waste’s beta decay, and was first developed in 2016. The idea was embraced as game-changing.

Beta decay

Beta decay is when an atom’s nucleus releases excess particles to even out the number of protons to neutrons. The process produces beta radiation, which is lots of electrons zinging around and creating energy.

The batteries are made via chemical vapour deposition, which produces polycrystalline diamond. Using a concoction of hydrogen and methane plasma, the diamond films are grown at a very high temperature. The process has been modified to grow Carbon-14, found on irradiated reactor graphite blocks.

When this material is used in batteries, even in tiny amounts, you get a self-charging long-lasting power source.

Not quite unlimited power

A concern with the batteries is that beta radiation is not the most efficient energy generator. Beta particles zing about in all directions, so it’s not guaranteed they will actually hit the semiconductor. Of those that hit it, only some of them will actually convert into electricity. This makes nuclear energy batteries, on average, not the most effective of choices.

The batteries are very low power, providing only a few microwatts. As such, the applications of the battery so far are limited. But there are certain things it can already do, like power pacemakers or small sensors.

A different kind of source

Even though betavoltaic batteries are still in their infancy, Lantek is an established and capable partner. We stock and source any electronic parts you need, all you need to do is get in touch. Call us today on 1-973-579-8100 or contact us at to see how easy sourcing can be.

Electronic Components

The importance of batteries to the future of electronics

The importance of batteries to the future of electronics

A brief history

Batteries were first invented long before electricity was even discovered in the 1700s. Around the 1900s the first iterations of what would become modern batteries began to appear. Since then, the tech going into them has improved dramatically, and other battery types are also in development.

Commonly used battery types

Lithium batteries are currently the most widely used type. These are the most common for consumers to purchase, and come in AA, AAA, or 9V sizes. The cheaper alternative in commercial sizes is alkaline batteries. Both types are disposable, but lithium ones last much longer.

Silver oxide batteries usually come in button form, the kind that are used for watches and smaller devices. Silver is an expensive material to use, hence why it’s only used for these smaller-size batteries. For hearing aids, the battery of choice is zinc air. These react with the air, so require a small tab to be removed for them to function.

Nickel-cadmium (NiCd) and Nickel-metal hydride are just a couple of the other battery types available on the market. Another ubiquitous kind of battery is the Lithium-ion (Li-ion). These are in most of your gadgets: phones, laptops, and other portable electronic devices.

Thanks to its low maintenance and high energy density it is usually chosen over other types of batteries like nickel-cadmium.

The rise of EVs and batteries

Li-ion batteries are commonly used in Electronic Vehicles (EVs) too. As the market for EVs increases at an exponential rate, the low maintenance li-ion batteries are a favourite among manufacturers. Companies predict li-ions will be the dominant technology for the foreseeable future, and the price was falling until last year.

NCM, made up of Lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese, and NCA (nickel, cobalt and aluminium) are two current alternatives for Li-ion batteries.

But now, Lithium prices are increasing, and so are the prices of cobalt. Since Li-ion batteries and their alternatives have both elements included, the search is on for a cost-friendly environmentally conscious replacement.

One alternative that seems to be rising to the surface is the sodium-ion battery (Na-ion). As one of the most abundant elements on earth it is significantly cheaper and is easy to extract. Na-ion batteries can also be fully discharged, so there is no risk associated with transporting them.

Return of LFP

But Na-ion is not the only tech on the rise. Some EV companies have started using cobalt-free iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries, and are planning on increasing this amount going forward. The reason behind the usage could be to avoid the use of nickel and cobalt while there are supply issues.

LFP batteries first came about in the mid-90s, however early iterations were difficult to charge and had heat issues. Disposal was also an issue, which meant in the early years these types weren’t frequently used.

Efficiency is a sticking point when compared to li-ion, but they have improved enough for use in shorter-range vehicles.

Battery tech for the future

There are many different types of battery tech currently in development. This may end up being essential thanks to the finite nature of some materials currently used.

Some types also require lithium, like the new generation li-ion and lithium-sulfur batteries. Others, however, do not require lithium. Other varieties like zinc-manganese oxide, organosilicon electrolyte, gold nanowire gel and TankTwo String Cell batteries are also potential future technologies.

The need for high power density and longevity will only increase in the future as EVs become more widespread. Eventually irreplaceable materials could also become scarce. It is predicted that by the end of the decade many more battery plants will open to accommodate this.

Shipping costs are also an issue, so reducing the need for exports, and avoiding reliance on other countries, is imperative.


This blog is purely informational and is in no way intended to advise on battery types.