New Scaffold for Silicon Electrodes in Batteries
Without batteries, the world would be very different from what it is now, as mobile phones, laptops, and more could not exist. Though we do have them, they are limited in what they can do, so researchers are constantly looking for new, better designs. Those at North Carolina State University have recently discovered a design that may allow batteries with ten times the energy storage to be made.
Lithium-ion batteries rely on graphite electrodes to oxidize and reduce the lithium ions, and do a decent job of it, but silicon could do ten times better. The problem with silicon is that when it absorbs lithium ions, it swells to the point of breaking, which can reduce the battery's capacity and risk further damage. The North Carolina researchers, though, have found a way to create sheets of aligned carbon nanotubes, which are then coated with silicon. In this configuration, the silicon is less likely to break off, making a potential lithium-silicon battery more stable.
There are still technical points to work out, but the method used to create the silicon-coated nanotubes can be scaled up for commercial production. If that is achieved, we may see cell phones and electric vehicles with far better battery lives.
Source: North Carolina State University