Batteries get a (nano)boost

Feb 09, 2009

Need to store electricity more efficiently? Put it behind bars. That's essentially the finding of a team of Rice University researchers who have created hybrid carbon nanotube metal oxide arrays as electrode material that may improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries.

With battery technology high on the list of priorities in a world demanding electric cars and gadgets that last longer between charges, such innovations are key to the future. Electrochemical capacitors and fuel cells would also benefit, the researchers said.

The team from Pulickel Ajayan's research group published a paper this week describing the proof-of-concept research in which nanotubes are grown to look - and act - like the coaxial conducting lines used in cables. The coax tubes consist of a manganese oxide shell and a highly conductive nanotube core.

"It's a nice bit of nanoscale engineering," said Ajayan, Rice's Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science.

"We've put in two materials - the nanotube, which is highly electrically conducting and can also absorb lithium, and the manganese oxide, which has very high capacity but poor electrical conductivity," said Arava Leela Mohana Reddy, a Rice postdoc researcher. "But when you combine them, you get something interesting."

That would be the ability to hold a lot of juice and transmit it efficiently. The researchers expect the number of charge/discharge cycles such batteries can handle will be greatly enhanced, even with a larger capacity.

"Although the combination of these materials has been studied as a composite electrode by several research groups, it's the coaxial cable design of these materials that offers improved performance as electrodes for lithium batteries," said Ajayan.

"At this point, we're trying to engineer and modify the structures to get the best performance," said Manikoth Shaijumon, also a Rice postdoc. The microscopic nanotubes, only a few nanometers across, can be bundled into any number of configurations. Future batteries may be thin and flexible. "And the whole idea can be transferred to a large scale as well. It is very manufacturable," Shaijumon said.

The hybrid nanocables grown in a Rice-developed process could also eliminate the need for binders, materials used in current batteries that hold the elements together but hinder their conductivity.

The paper was written by Reddy, Shaijumon, doctoral student Sanketh Gowda and Ajayan. It appears in the online version of the American Chemical Society's Nano Letters.

Source: Rice University

Explore further: In-situ nanoindentation study of phase transformation in magnetic shape memory alloys

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Research and applications of iron oxide nanoparticles

Feb 26, 2014

From the mysteries of producing red colors in traditional Japanese Bizen stoneware to iron-oxidizing bacteria for lithium ion batteries, Professor Jun Takada is at the forefront of research on innovative ...

Technology uses micro-windmills to recharge cell phones

Jan 10, 2014

A UT Arlington research associate and electrical engineering professor have designed a micro-windmill that generates wind energy and may become an innovative solution to cell phone batteries constantly in ...

Clay key to high-temperature supercapacitors

Sep 03, 2013

Clay, an abundant and cheap natural material, is a key ingredient in a supercapacitor that can operate at very high temperatures, according to Rice University researchers who have developed such a device.

Unzipped nanotubes unlock potential for batteries

Jun 13, 2013

(Phys.org) —Researchers at Rice University have come up with a new way to boost the efficiency of the ubiquitous lithium ion (LI) battery by employing ribbons of graphene that start as carbon nanotubes.

Discovery furthers understanding of superconductivity

May 28, 2013

(Phys.org) —Physicists at the University of Arkansas have collaborated with scientists in the United States and Asia to discover that a crucial ingredient of high-temperature superconductivity could be found in an entirely ...

Recommended for you

'Exotic' material is like a switch when super thin

21 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Ever-shrinking electronic devices could get down to atomic dimensions with the help of transition metal oxides, a class of materials that seems to have it all: superconductivity, magnetoresistance ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nemo
not rated yet Feb 09, 2009
To add context it would be great to hear comparison with the typical batteries of today, energy density for example. My AA rechargable batteries are rated 2200 mAh. Are we talking 10x this?

More news stories

'Exotic' material is like a switch when super thin

(Phys.org) —Ever-shrinking electronic devices could get down to atomic dimensions with the help of transition metal oxides, a class of materials that seems to have it all: superconductivity, magnetoresistance ...

Innovative strategy to facilitate organ repair

A significant breakthrough could revolutionize surgical practice and regenerative medicine. A team led by Ludwik Leibler from the Laboratoire Matière Molle et Chimie (CNRS/ESPCI Paris Tech) and Didier Letourneur ...

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.