Super-Charging Lithium Batteries
By Peter Fairley
Existing lithium batteries can enable battery-powered electrical vehicles to travel hundreds of miles on a charge, prompting a race among major automakers to demonstrate that the batteries are safe and durable enough for mass marketing. Battery developers, meanwhile, continue to push lithium performance. Last month, Stanford University materials scientists unveiled a nanowire electrode that could more than triple lithium batteries' energy storage capacity and improve their safety.
The development, reported in the scientific journal Nature Materials, stems from the labs of nanowire innovator Yi Cui and battery expert Robert Huggins at Stanford's Materials Science and Engineering Department. The researchers show that nanowires of silicon just a few atoms across can function as high-capacity electrodes, absorbing and releasing about 10 times more lithium ions than the graphite electrodes that are commonly used today.
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