Silicon Nanotube Electrodes Promise 10-Fold Increase in Battery Capacity

Matching cathode required to exploit improved energy density.

Published: 23-Sep-2009

In an advance that could help electric vehicles run longer between charges, researchers have shown that silicon nanotube electrodes can store 10 times more charge than the conventional graphite electrodes used in lithium-ion batteries.

Researchers at Stanford University and Hanyang University in Ansan, Korea, are developing the nanotube electrodes in collaboration with LG Chem, a Korean company that makes lithium-ion batteries, including those used in the Chevy Volt. When such a battery is charged, lithium ions move from the cathode to the anode. The new battery electrodes, described online in the journal Nano Letters, are anodes and can store much more energy than conventional graphite electrodes because they absorb much more lithium when the battery is charged.

"In a hybrid car, the battery lasts only 30 minutes using the current technology," says Jaephil Cho, associate professor of applied chemistry at Hanyang University, who led the research on nanotube anodes. If the new silicon anode can be matched to a cathode with comparable storage capacity, the resulting battery should be able to run a car for three to four hours without recharging, says Cho.

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