Researchers developed cheap, strong lithium-ion battery

Feb 12, 2013

Researchers at USC have developed a new lithium-ion battery design that uses porous silicon nanoparticles in place of the traditional graphite anodes to provide superior performance.

The new batteries—which could be used in anything from cell phones to —hold three times as much energy as comparable graphite-based designs and recharge within 10 minutes. The design, currently under a provisional patent, could be commercially available within two to three years.

"It's an exciting research. It opens the door for the design of the next generation batteries," said Chongwu Zhou, professor at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, who led the team that developed the battery. Zhou worked with USC graduate students Mingyuan Ge, Jipeng Rong, Xin Fang and Anyi Zhang, as well as Yunhao Lu of Zhejiang University in China. Their research was published in Nano Research in January.

Researchers have long attempted to use silicon, which is cheap and has a high potential capacity, in battery anodes. (Anodes are where current flows into a battery, while cathodes are where current flows out.) The problem has been that previous silicon anode designs, which were basically tiny plates of the material, broke down from repeated swelling and shrinking during charging/discharging cycles and quickly became useless.

Last year, Zhou's team experimented with porous silicon nanowires that are less than 100 nanometers in diameter and just a few microns long. The tiny pores on the nanowires allowed the silicon to expand and contract without breaking while simultaneously increasing the surface area – which in turn allows lithium ions to diffuse in and out of the battery more quickly, improving performance.

Though the batteries functioned well, the nanowires are difficult to manufacture en masse. To solve the problem, Zhou's team took commercially available nanoparticles—tiny silicon spheres—and etched them with the same pores as the nanowires. The particles function similarly and can be made in any quantity desired.

Though the silicon nanoparticle batteries currently last for just 200 recharge cycles (compared to an average of 500 for graphite-based designs), the team's older silicon nanowire-based design lasted for up to 2,000 cycles, which was reported in Nano Lett last April. Further development of the nanoparticle design should boost the battery's lifespan, Zhou said.

"The easy method we use may generate real impact on battery applications in the near future," Zhou said.

Future research by the group will focus finding a new cathode material with a high capacity that will pair well with the porous silicon and/or nanoparticles to create a completely redesigned .

Explore further: Thinnest feasible nano-membrane produced

Related Stories

New nanostructure for batteries keeps going and going

May 11, 2012

(Phys.org) -- For more than a decade, scientists have tried to improve lithium-based batteries by replacing the graphite in one terminal with silicon, which can store 10 times more charge. But after just a ...

Increasing Electric Car Battery Performance

Sep 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers have found that by replacing conventional graphite electrodes with silicon nanotube electrodes, lithium-ion batteries can store 10 times more charge.

Researchers boost silicon-based batteries

Nov 01, 2012

(Phys.org)—Researchers at Rice University have refined silicon-based lithium-ion technology by literally crushing their previous work to make a high-capacity, long-lived and low-cost anode material with ...

Recommended for you

Thinnest feasible nano-membrane produced

Apr 17, 2014

A new nano-membrane made out of the 'super material' graphene is extremely light and breathable. Not only can this open the door to a new generation of functional waterproof clothing, but also to ultra-rapid filtration. The ...

Wiring up carbon-based electronics

Apr 17, 2014

Carbon-based nanostructures such as nanotubes, graphene sheets, and nanoribbons are unique building blocks showing versatile nanomechanical and nanoelectronic properties. These materials which are ordered ...

Making 'bucky-balls' in spin-out's sights

Apr 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —A new Oxford spin-out firm is targeting the difficult challenge of manufacturing fullerenes, known as 'bucky-balls' because of their spherical shape, a type of carbon nanomaterial which, like ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Grallen
not rated yet Feb 12, 2013
li-imide's time in the sun was short. :p

Maybe the same anode is applicable there.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Feb 12, 2013
(Anodes are where current flows into a battery, while cathodes are where current flows out.)


What?

I'm pretty sure both the anode and the cathode see current both ways, because you have to complete the circuit for electricity to flow.

which in turn allows lithium ions to diffuse in and out of the battery more quickly


...I'm pretty sure the lithium ions never leave the battery either.

This is a horribly written article.
RealScience
not rated yet Feb 12, 2013
@Eikka - Basically correct.
Lithium ions don't leave the battery. In normal operation lithium ions migrate from the anode to the cathode, creating a positive voltage there. Electrons are prevented from migrating with the ions, so the electrons flow from the anode into the rest of the circuit, and electrons flow back into the cathode to to neutralize the ions.
Electrons are negative and by convention current is positive so 'current' flows the opposite way. Thus during normal operation current flows only one way, into the anode (opposite from the electron flow.
However during charging of the battery the process is reversed, so if charging is included then yes, both electrodes see the current both ways.
NickFun
5 / 5 (1) Feb 13, 2013
These claims are frequently made to lure investors. I'll believe it when I see it!

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...