Researchers enhance battery electrode specs

November 18, 2011 // By Nicolas Mokhoff
A team of Northwestern University researchers has created an anode electrode for lithium-ion batteries that allows the batteries to hold a charge up to 10 times greater than using current technology.

Batteries with the new electrode also can charge 10 times faster than current batteries, according to the researchers.

In current rechargeable batteries, the anode is made of layers of carbon-based graphene sheets and can accommodate one lithium atom for every six carbon atoms.

The researchers sandwiched clusters of silicon between the graphene sheets which allowed for a greater number of lithium atoms in the electrode while utilizing the flexibility of graphene sheets to accommodate the volume changes of silicon during use.

The team also used a chemical oxidation process to create 10- to 20-nm holes in the graphene sheets to reduce the time it takes the battery to recharge by up to 10 times than with current technologies.

In the next phase of their work, researchers will study changes in the cathode that could further increase effectiveness of the batteries.

The technology could be ready commercially in the next three to five years, the researchers said.

The Energy Frontier Research Center program of the U.S. Department of Energy, Basic Energy Sciences, supported the research.

The paper describing the research is published by the journal Advanced Energy Materials .