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SiO2 nanotubes offer threefold rise in Li-ion energy capacity

Posted: 21 May 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:University of California  Li-ion  nanotube  silicon dioxide  anode 

Using a material found in surgical tubing, researchers at the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering have come up with a technique to develop lithium-ion batteries that claim to last three times longer between charges compared to the prevailing industry standard. They created silicon dioxide (SiO2) nanotube anodes for lithium-ion batteries and found they had more than three times as much energy storage capacity as the carbon-based anodes currently being used.

SiO2 nanotubes on Li-ion cells

"We are taking the same material used in kids' toys and medical devices and even fast food and using it to create next generation battery materials," said Zachary Favors, the lead author of the paper titled 'Stable Cycling of SiO2 Nanotubes as High-Performance Anodes for Lithium-Ion Batteries' published online in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, which was co-authored by Cengiz S. Ozkan, a mechanical engineering professor, Mihrimah Ozkan, an electrical engineering professor, and several of their current and former graduate students: Wei Wang, Hamed Hosseinni Bay, Aaron George and Favors.

The team focused on silicon dioxide because it is an abundant compound, environmentally friendly, non-toxic and found in many other products.

Silicon dioxide has previously been used as an anode material in lithium ion batteries, but the ability to synthesise the material into uniform exotic nanostructures with high energy density and long cycle life has been limited.

The key finding was that the silicon dioxide nanotubes are stable in batteries that leads to longer lifespans. SiO2 nanotube anodes were cycled 100 times without any loss in energy storage capability and the authors are confident that they could be cycled hundreds more times. The discovery has implications for industries including electronics and electric vehicles, which are always trying to squeeze longer discharges out of batteries.

The researchers are focusing on methods to scale up production of the SiO2 nanotubes with a view to creating a commercially viable product.

The research is supported by Temiz Energy Technologies.

- Paul Buckley
  EE Times Europe

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