The world would be a different place if we did not have the high capacity batteries currently available. The future will need still more powerful batteries though, and creating them is proving to be a great challenge. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside however have successfully developed a new electrode for lithium ion batteries that may just give that needed increase.
The anode of a battery is very important as it is what actually stores the energy, and different materials can store different amounts. Modern lithium ion batteries use carbon anodes, but researchers have known for some time that anodes made of silicon can store significantly more. The problem is that silicon can be much more fragile and harder to produce. The California researchers though were able to find a way to produce highly uniform nanotubes of silicon dioxide in nanostructures capable of great energy storage, while still being resilient.
When the researchers tested the new anode, they found it was able to survive 100 charge-discharge cycles without any capacity loss, and was able to store over three times as much energy modern batteries. The researchers are now working on ways to scale up production of the nanotubes, in order to potentially make them a commercial product.