Nanotechnology Increases Lithium Ion Battery Storage Capacity 10 Times Over

silicon nanowires

[social_buttons] Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by the Stanford News Service in December 2007.

Last December, researchers at Stanford University found a way to use silicon nanowires to store 10 times the amount of energy of existing lithium-ion batteries. A laptop that now runs on battery for two hours could operate for 20 hours, but more importantly, this technology can be applied to electric vehicle batteries.

The breakthrough is described in a paper, “High-performance lithium battery anodes using silicon nanowires,” published online Dec. 16 in Nature Nanotechnology. The paper was written by Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, his graduate chemistry student Candace Chan, and five others.

According to Cui: “Given the mature infrastructure behind silicon, this new technology can be pushed to real life quickly.”

The lithium is stored in tiny silicon nanowires, each with a diameter one-thousandth the thickness of a sheet of paper. The nanowires inflate four times their normal size as they soak up lithium. But, unlike other silicon shapes, they do not fracture.

Cui said that a patent application has been filed. He is considering formation of a company or an agreement with a battery manufacturer.

The main barrier to the widespread adoption of electric cars are cost, recharge time, and speed. The costs will come down as demand for electric vehicles increases and they become mass-produced. Nanotechnology is a potential solution to the recharge time problem as well. For example Altair Nanotechnologies is in the process of creating a battery which they claim will allow for a 10 minute recharge at special high voltage recharging stations. And now this new discovery could allow nanotechnology to solve the range issue as well, and in fact could potentially give electric vehicles far greater range than gas powered vehicles.

Source: Stanford News Service

More on Electric Cars:

Image Source: Nature Nanotechnology

Dana Nuccitelli

Dana earned a Bachelor's degree in astrophysics from UC Berkeley in 2003 and a Master's degree in physics from UC Davis in 2005. Through college, he grew increasingly interested in environmental issues, particularly global warming and alternative fuel vehicles. After earning his Master's degree, Dana became employed at an environmental consulting firm in the Sacramento, California area. He currently works as an Environmental Scientist, primarily perfoming research and contributing to the cleanup of contaminated former military defense sites.