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Tin nanocrystals for the battery of the future
Date:4/8/2013

deal size for the nanocrystals arose, which also carries the challenge of producing uniform crystals. "The trick here was to separate the two basic steps in the formation of the crystals the formation of as small as a crystal nucleus as possible on the one hand and its subsequent growth on the other," explains Kovalenko. By influencing the time and temperature of the growth phase, the scientists were able to control the size of the crystals. "We are the first to produce such small tin crystals with such precision," says the scientist.

Larger cycle stability

Using uniform tin nanocrystals, carbon and binding agents, the scientists produced different test electrodes for batteries. "This enables twice as much power to be stored compared to conventional electrodes," says Kovalenko. The size of the nanocrystals did not affect the storage capacity during the initial charging and discharging cycle. After a few charging and discharging cycles, however, differences caused by the crystal size became apparent: batteries with ten-nanometre crystals in the electrodes were able to store considerably more energy than ones with twice the diameter. The scientists assume that the smaller crystals perform better because they can absorb and release lithium ions more effectively. "Ten-nanometre tin crystals thus seem to be just the ticket for lithium ion batteries," says Kovalenko.

As the scientists now know the ideal size for the tin nanocrystals, they would like to turn their attention to the remaining challenges of producing optimum tin electrodes in further research projects. These include the choice of the best possible carbon matrix and binding agent for the electrodes, and the electrodes' ideal microscopic structure. Moreover, an optimal and stable electrolyte liquid in which the lithium ions can travel back and forth between the two poles in the battery also needs to be selected. Ultimately, the production costs are also an issue, which the research
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Contact: Maksym Kovalenko
mvkovalenko@ethz.ch
41-446-334-156
ETH Zurich
Source:Eurekalert

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