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December 20, 2007

Silicon nanowires could extend battery life tenfold

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by Janet Harris

Batteries for electronic devices such as laptops, mobile phones and even electric vehicles, could soon hold ten times more charge than currently possible, thanks to new research at Stanford University.

University researchers, including Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, are using silicon nanowires to extend the life of lithium-ion batteries.

The capacity of a traditional lithium-ion battery is determined by how much lithium its anode can hold.

Silicon has a substantially greater storage capacity than carbon, of which anodes are generally made.

The new technology replaces this carbon with silicon nanowires, which form a new material, lithium silicide, when they touch the lithium-ion. It is the lithium silicide which stores the battery’s energy.

The nanowires are 1,000 thinner than a human hair but can expand fourfold as they store the lithium.

When the energy is expended, the lithium silicide becomes silicon again, and can be recharged.

Research is now underway into methods of mass producing the batteries.

Story link: Silicon nanowires could extend battery life tenfold

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