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Cheap, strong lithium-ion battery developed at USC
Date:2/12/2013

Researchers at USC have developed a new lithium-ion battery design that uses porous silicon nanoparticles in place of the traditional graphite anodes to provide superior performance.

The new batterieswhich could be used in anything from cell phones to hybrid carshold 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.

"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, who led the team that developed the battery. Zhou worked with USC graduate students Mingyuan Ge, Jipeng Rong, Xin Fang and Anyi Zhang, as well as Yunhao Lu of Zhejiang University in China. Their research was published in Nano Research in January.

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.

Last year, Zhou's team experimented with porous silicon nanowires that are less than 100 nanometers in diameter and just a few microns long. The tiny pores on the nanowires allowed the silicon to expand and contract without breaking while simultaneously increasing the surface area which in turn allows lithium ions to diffuse in and out of the battery more quickly, improving performance.

Though the batteries functioned well, the nanowires are difficult to manufacture en masse. To solve the problem, Zhou's team took commercially available nanoparticlestiny silicon spheresand etched them with the same pores as
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Contact: Robert Perkins
perkinsr@usc.edu
213-740-9226
University of Southern California
Source:Eurekalert

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