New Li-Ion Battery Holds 10x the Charge of Current Batteries

Stanford researchers have found a way to use silicon nanowires to reinvent the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power laptops, iPods, video cameras, cell phones, and countless other devices. The new version, developed through research led by Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, produces 10 times the amount of electricity of existing lithium-ion, known as Li-ion, batteries. A laptop that now runs on battery for two hours could operate for 20 hours, a boon to ocean-hopping business travelers. "It's not a small improvement," Cui said. "It's a revolutionary development." The greatly expanded storage capacity could make Li-ion batteries attractive to electric car manufacturers. Cui suggested that they could also be used in homes or offices to store electricity generated by rooftop solar panels. "Given the mature infrastructure behind silicon, this new technology can be pushed to real life quickly," Cui said. The electrical storage capacity of a Li-ion battery is limited by how much lithium can be held in the battery's anode, which is typically made of carbon. Silicon has a much higher capacity than carbon, but also has a drawback.

Silicon placed in a battery swells as it absorbs positively charged lithium atoms during charging, then shrinks during use (i.e., when playing your iPod) as the lithium is drawn out of the silicon. This expand/shrink cycle typically causes the silicon (often in the form of particles or a thin film) to pulverize, degrading the performance of the battery. Cui's battery gets around this problem with nanotechnology. The lithium is stored in a forest of 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. Research on silicon in batteries began three decades ago. Candace Chan, a graduate student of Cui, explained: "The people kind of gave up on it because the capacity wasn't high enough and the cycle life wasn't good enough. And it was just because of the shape they were using. It was just too big, and they couldn't undergo the volume changes."

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19 Comments

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yes I hate that. Everything new takes 5 years to get to the market... That kindly sux if you ask me, and even then, the price is bloated.

It would be nice. I have to buy a new battery for my Dell laptop after only a year and about 9 months of use - it only holds a decent charge for about a half hour anymore :(
$90 for a battery so soon is lame.

-Spenser

I believe that scientists should really work on witricity and a new technology of Li-Ion batteries because the world is and will be more dependent on battery power in the near future. As for the handheld devices like mini-laptops, this new tech of Li-Ion is great. I hope that it will be in sales pretty soon.

Has it occured to you that there maybe more than one group of scientists each working on separate issues to improve this technology?

Zhivago said,
Has it occured to you that there maybe more than one group of scientists each working on separate issues to improve this technology? ;)

Humn? Duh?

If only Li-Ion batteries weren't so volatile I'm sure that car manufacturers would be interested, but Toyota recently announced that these are too unsafe for car installations.

You will find Li-Ion car bateries in german sports/tunning cars, as far as I know they are only allowed in Germany, I might be wrong...

Lithium Ion batteries are not at all unsafe, the instances you've been hearing about with batteries exploding is entirely due to bad engineering.

You think flammable gasoline isn't as much and more a danger?

The problem with these batteries is not due to manufacturing process, but the way they would react in a car crash. The Li-Ion mixture with air produces plasma-like hot explosion. Try to imagine only one going off in a car crash.

Yogurth said,
The problem with these batteries is not due to manufacturing process, but the way they would react in a car crash. The Li-Ion mixture with air produces plasma-like hot explosion. Try to imagine only one going off in a car crash.

The problem with gasoline is not due to containment, but the way it would react in a crash. The gasoline/air mixture with a small spark creates a bomb-like explosion.

That is along the lines of what Stanley Steamer tried to say when gasoline powered vehicles were replacing steam powered vehicles. Or did you already forget about that?

The gasoline/air mixture with a small spark creates a bomb-like explosion.


Only in Holywood movies. Gasoline is flammable, but not nearly as described in silly action movies.

Shining Arcanine said,
The problem with gasoline is not due to containment, but the way it would react in a crash. The gasoline/air mixture with a small spark creates a bomb-like explosion.

Wrong, gasoline (petrol to us Britons) does not explode, it burns, rapidly. That is different to an explosion.