Nanocables could lead to more powerful lithium-ion batteries

Jan 28, 2010 by Lisa Zyga report
Scientists have developed coaxial nanocables: carbon nanotubes coated with titanium dioxide. Image credit: Cao, et al. (c)Chemistry of Materials.

(PhysOrg.com) -- By itself, titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a very poor electrode. Electrons move very slowly through the material - so slowly, in fact, that it can take years to fill a millimeter-thick piece of TiO2. However, things change when the TiO2 is extremely thin: a 10-nm-thick piece of TiO2 can be filled with electrons in milliseconds. Inspired by this ability, scientists have recently investigated whether TiO2 could be useful for fabricating high-capacity batteries.

A team of scientists, Fei-Fei Cao, et al., from institutions in China and Germany, have found that applying a thin coat of TiO2 to the outside of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) can create coaxial nanocables. The nanocables can then be formed into a crystalline solid that turns out to be very good at trapping lithium ions and quickly transporting electrons - much better than either TiO2 or CNTs on their own.

“On one hand, the CNT core provides sufficient for the storage of lithium in the TiO2 sheath,” the researchers wrote in a study published in Chemistry of Materials. “On the other hand, the CNT itself can also store lithium whereby this storage kinetics is, in turn, improved by the presence of the nanoporous TiO2 … [which] enables rapid access of lithium-ions from the liquid .”

These symbiotic advantages could directly lead to improvements in lithium-ion batteries that use nanocable-based anodes. The researchers found the new anodes offer improvements in , release rate, and cycling performance compared with either pure CNT or pure TiO2. The nanocables also had good reliability, showing almost no capacity loss after one hundred cycles.

Nanocable2
Titanium-coated nanotube cables shown under a transmission electron microscope. Image credit: Cao, et al. (c)Chemistry of Materials.

These abilities are also competitive with graphite-based anodes, which are commonly used in today’s lithium-ion batteries. Plus, the nanocables are easy to produce and made of inexpensive materials, which could make them attractive for commercial use.

“This fascinating symbiotic behavior and the fact that the cable morphology leads to an efficient use of this symbiosis makes this solution match the requirements of lithium-ion batteries extremely well,” the researchers wrote.

The scientists hope that this demonstration of the synergistic benefits of hybrid materials might motivate further research in using hybrid materials for other energy storage devices, such as supercapacitors.

Explore further: Researchers make nanostructured carbon using the waste product sawdust

More information: Fei-Fei Cao, et al. "Symbiotic Coaxial Nanocables: Facile Synthesis and an Efficient and Elegant Morphological Solution to the Lithium Storage Problem." Chemistry of Materials. doi:10.1021/cm9036742

via: Chemistry World

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User comments : 2

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CaptBarbados
4.7 / 5 (3) Jan 28, 2010
The magnifications shown on the example image seem to be backward to me.

The new technology is riveting as opens new horizons to resource optimization. We need not waste these precious materials.
sender
4 / 5 (1) Jan 29, 2010
Adding Bi2Te3 to the electrodes or layerbetween the CNT and TiO2 would make for extremely fast capacitance properties in theory.