Lithium-ion batteries don't get a lot of respect these days, what with everyone talking about magical future batteries that are cheaper and won't make you Prius owners cause acid rain. They're everywhere still and they provide portable devices that require a lot of energy, such as mobile telephones, digital cameras, and notebook computers, with power. However, their capacity, and thus the running time of the devices, remain somewhat limited - a notebook computer usually runs only about two hours.
The reason is the relatively small capacity of the graphite anode in those batteries to absorb lithium ions. A team led by Jaephil Cho at Hanyang University in Korea has now developed a new material for anodes, which could clear a path for a new generation of rechargeable batteries. As reported in the journal Angewandte Chemie, their new material involves three-dimensional, highly porous silicon structures.
Lithium ion accumulator batteries produce current by moving lithium ions. The battery usually contains a cathode (positive electrode) made of a mixed metal oxide, such as lithium cobalt oxide, and an anode (negative electrode) made of graphite. While the battery is being charged, lithium ions migrate into the anode, where they are stored between the graphite layers. When the battery is being discharged, these ions migrate back to the cathode.
An anodic material that could store more lithium ions than graphite is what is needed and silicon presents an interesting alternative. The problem: silicon expands a great deal while absorbing lithium ions (charging) and shrinks when giving them up (discharging). After several cycles the required thin silicon layers are pulverized and can no longer be charged.
Cho's team has now developed a new method for the production of a porous silicon anode that can withstand this strain. They annealed silicon dioxide nanoparticles with silicon particles whose outermost silicon atoms have short hydrocarbon chains attached to them at 900 °C under an argon atmosphere. The silicon dioxide particles were removed from the resulting mass by etching. What remained were carbon-coated silicon crystals in a continuous, three-dimensional, highly porous structure.
Anodes made of this highly porous silicon have a high charge capacity for lithium ions. In addition, the lithium ions are rapidly transported and stored, making rapid charging and discharging possible. A high specific capacity is also attained with high current. The changes in volume that occur upon charging and discharging cause only a small degree of swelling and shrinking of the pore walls, which have a thickness of less than 70 nm. In addition, the first charging cycle results in an amorphous (noncrystalline) silicon mass around residual nanocrystals in the pore walls. Consequently, even after 100 cycles, the stress in the pore wall is not noticeable in the material.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Part I: Bee Deaths Mystery Solved? Neonicotinoids (Neonics) May Actually Help Bee Health
- 3X Saturated Fat In The Diet Doesn't Increase It In Blood
- Eosinophilic Esophagitis: Genetic Clues Of Severe Food Allergy
- Still No Contact with NASA's Sun-watching Probe
- Interstellar Is A Dangerous Fantasy Of US Colonialism
- Is Religion A Consolation Worth Having?
- Why Computer Programs Can't Understand Truth - And Ethics Of Artificial Intelligence Babies
- "As an earlier cigarette smoker and now e-cig smoker, I can confirm they don't help you quit. As..."
- "Reality? What is reality if you use irrational arguments to justify man's cruelty toward..."
- "Always loved the Heels that showed of the instep (arches) ..."
- "By the way, I am a fan of your blog. It's one of the few places I can follow physics without getting..."
- "Hello Anon,you're entirely right, it's arbitrary and it does not provide protection against cases..."
- Gene in kidney may play role in high blood pressure
- Panel-based genetic diagnostic testing for inherited eye disease proves highly accurate
- Research finds tooth enamel fast-track in humans
- Good news for cocaine users: Caffeine counters cocaine's effects on women's estrus cycles
- Clipping proteins that package genes may limit abnormal cell growth in tumors