USC develops next-generation lithium ion battery technology

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Lithium ion battery
Photo via flickr

Researchers at USC, according to recently published research in Nano Research, have “developed a new lithium-ion battery design that uses porous silicon nanoparticles in place of the traditional graphite anodes to provide superior performance.”

“It’s an exciting research. It opens the door for the design of the next generation lithium-ion batteries,” said Chongwu Zhou, professor at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, in a statement. Zhou led the team that developed the battery, which includes: USC graduate students Mingyuan Ge, Jipeng Rong, Xin Fang and Anyi Zhang, and Yunhao Lu of Zhejiang University in China.

The researchers reveal in a press release:

The new batteries—which could be used in anything from cell phones to hybrid cars—hold three times as much energy as comparable graphite-based designs and recharge within 10 minutes. The design, currently under a provisional patent, could be commercially available within two to three years.

Researchers have long attempted to use silicon, which is cheap and has a high potential capacity, in battery anodes. (Anodes are where current flows into a battery, while cathodes are where current flows out.) The problem has been that previous silicon anode designs, which were basically tiny plates of the material, broke down from repeated swelling and shrinking during charging/discharging cycles and quickly became useless.

Future research by the group will focus finding a new cathode material with a high capacity that will pair well with the porous silicon nanowires and/or porous silicon nanoparticles to create a completely redesigned battery.