Batteries are an example of a technology that both enables and frustrates those who work with them. The portability they offer is wonderful for so many devices, but their low charge rates can impair the performance of some of these devices. To address these issues, researchers are looking for new materials to use for electrodes within lithium-ion batteries, and Rice University has just found a very promising one.
Vanadium oxide has long been study for use in batteries because it is able to store a large number of ions, but, like many oxides, it is not a good conductor. To fix that, the researchers combined it with graphene and made nanoribbons. This combination brings the best of both materials and allowed the half-cell the researchers made to charge and discharge in just 20 seconds, and even after 1000 cycles, it retained 90% of its charge capacity. With the vanadium oxide representing 84% of the electrode's weight it was able to store 204 milliamp hours per gram, which the researchers believe is among the highest densities for any lithium-ion battery electrode.
Of course a new electrode is not very useful if it cannot be mass produced cheaply, and luckily the researchers are confident their relatively simple means to produce the nanoribbons can be scaled up as needed. If it is, we could see this used in devices such as electric cars that would benefit from the high recharge rate.
Source: Rice University