Tomorrow’s Battery is Comprised of Lithium and Carbon Nano-structures

Anode diagram

The Lithium-Carbon nanostructure combination allows for the battery to operate in a more stable fashion, producing more energy and reducing the risk of fire.

How does a device with three times the average battery life of today’s electronics sound? Researchers at Stanford University believe that constructing a battery cell made primarily of lithium and carbon nanospheres could potentially yield better energy output. In a paper published at Nature Nanotechnology, their study explores new improvements in the field of compact electron storage.

Current batteries operate by collecting positively-charged ions in an electrical conductor known as an anode. These anodes are typically made from materials such as graphite or silicon, but researchers suggest that if anodes were made of lithium, it would reduce the weight and increase the energy density of a battery. They write that lithium has a specific capacity of 3,860 mAh g-1 (a measurement of energy output)- which exceeds that of any available materials, and has a low anode potential. However, certain elemental characteristics have prevented it from being used as in anodes.

“The lithium anode forms dendritic and mossy metal deposits, leading to serious safety concerns and low Coulombic efficiency during charge/discharge cycles,” they write in the study. In order to prevent such detrimental occurances, researchers coated a lithium anode with a layer of hollow carbon nanospheres to inhibit dendritic deposits. This honeycomb-like nanosphere layer is 20 nanometers thick and forms a protective, chemically stable barrier- flexible enough to expand and contract during the charge cycle.

The researchers say that so far, the Coulombic efficiency of the battery (a ratio of input charge to output charge) is over 99% at 150 cycles, but eventually their goal is to reach 99.9%. “Of all the materials that one might use in an anode, lithium has the greatest potential. Some call it the Holy Grail,” comments Stanford professor Yi Cui, who is the head of the study.

Share your thoughts on this new and improved battery in the comments below!

Source: The Register via Nature Nanotechnology

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