Lithium-ion batteries, such as those used in your laptop, mobile phone or hybrid car, are extremely important in today’s world but are limited by the amount of lithium ions that the typically carbon anode can hold. Stanford announced this week they’ve developed a new method that can increase the amount of charge held by as much as 10 times.
The new battery uses what is perhaps the technology of the next ten years – nanowires. At large scale, the swelling of the lithium ions when they absorb positive charge breaks the structure of the silicon holding them. The researches instead used a mesh of microscopic silicon nanowires that bend and swell under the pressure but do not break. The researcher, Yi Cui, said:
Manufacturing the nanowire batteries would require “one or two different steps, but the process can certainly be scaled up,” he added. “It’s a well understood process.”
I’ll look forward to my laptop with 25 hour battery life in a few years, then.
[via Daily Kos, image from the Stanford article, apologies for my absence this week – I’ve been wrestling with my wireless connection on Ubuntu Gutsy]
Last week both Jeremy and I blogged about the promising developments of Nanowires, which have the prospect of making tiny supercomputers, possibly powered by solar. Although the current method of growing the tiny wires like grass is fascinating, it is very inefficient. To make any of these technologies useable in the real world, vast improvements in the creation of nanowires will be needed. The National Institute of Standards and Technology have improved that by adapting techniques used in the semiconductor industry. By putting tiny amounts of gold into the substrate, they can make up to 600 tiny transistors from one batch of nanowires. The field of Nanoscience still has a long way to go but with advances like this happening all the time, we’re getting closer.
[story via Science Daily, picture by NIST via physorg]