Quantcast

Rice University Researchers Create Tiny Film That Could Replace Lithium Batteries

Chemists from Rice University have developed a new technology for energy storage, but if you don't look close enough, you might miss it.

It's only one one-hundredth of an inch thick.

The thin film is flexible and contains the best qualities of high-energy batteries, but without the lithium. The research of chemist James Tour and c0-authors Yang Yang, a postdoctoral researcher, and graduate student Gedeng Ruan have appeared in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

"Compared with a lithium-ion device, the structure is quite simple and safe," Yang said. "It behaves like a battery but the structure is that of a supercapacitor. If we use it as a supercapacitor, we can charge quickly at a high current rate and discharge it in a very short time. But for other applications, we find we can set it up to charge more slowly and to discharge slowly like a battery."

[blackoutgallery id="332202"] 

Called an electrochemical capacitor, the film contains nanoporous nickel-fluoride electrodes layered around a solid electrolyte designed to "deliver battery-like supercapacitor performance" for various portable electronics on the market. Though it's tiny, the capacitor could be scaled up for devices either by increasing the size or adding layers, researchers said. They also believe it could be manufactured to be even thinner.

Tour and company set out to find a material with the flexible qualities of graphene, carbon nanotubes and conducting polymers while possessing much higher electrical storage capacity typically found in inorganic metal compounds. While testing, the students found that the square-inch device held 76 percent of its capacity over 10,000 charge-discharge cycles and 1,000 bending cycles.

“This is not easy to do, because materials with such high capacity are usually brittle,” Tour said. “And we’ve had really good, flexible carbon storage systems in the past, but carbon as a material has never hit the theoretical value that can be found in inorganic systems and nickel fluoride in particular.”

The Peter M. and Ruth L. Nicholas Postdoctoral Fellowship of the Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research’s Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative supported the chemists' research.

"The numbers are exceedingly high in the power that it can deliver, and it’s a very simple method to make high-powered systems,” Tour said, adding that the technique shows promise for the manufacture of other 3-D nanoporous materials. “We’re already talking with companies interested in commercializing this.”

——–

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

Battery Storage Breakthrough at Harvard Could Play Huge Role in Future of Renewables

Oregon State Professor’s Breakthrough Uses Sun to Produce Solar Cells

——–

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By George Citroner

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the World Health Organization currently recommend either 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (walking, gardening, doing household chores) or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise (running, cycling, swimming) every week.

But there's little research looking at the benefits, if any, of exercising less than the 75 minute minimum.

Read More Show Less
Mary Daly, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, poses for a photograph. Nick Otto / Washington Post / Getty Images

It seems the reality of the climate crisis is too much for the Federal Reserve to ignore anymore.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Passengers trying to reach Berlin's Tegel Airport on Sunday were hit with delays after police blocked roads and enacted tighter security controls in response to a climate protest.

Read More Show Less
A military police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina, pets Rosco, a post-traumatic stress disorder companion animal certified to accompany him, on Jan. 11, 2014. North Carolina National Guard

For 21 years, Doug Distaso served his country in the United States Air Force.

He commanded joint aviation, maintenance, and support personnel globally and served as a primary legislative affairs lead for two U.S. Special Operations Command leaders.

But after an Air Force plane accident left him with a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic pain, Distaso was placed on more than a dozen prescription medications by doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Read More Show Less
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Preliminary tests of the bubble barrier have shown it to be capable of ushering 80 percent of the canal's plastic waste to its banks. The Great Bubble Barrier / YouTube screenshot

The scourge of plastic waste that washes up on once-pristine beaches and finds its way into the middle of the ocean often starts on land, is dumped in rivers and canals, and gets carried out to sea. At the current rate, marine plastic is predicted to outweigh all the fish in the seas by 2050, according to Silicon Canals.

Read More Show Less
Man stands on stage at Fort Leonard Wood in the U.S. Brett Sayles / Pexels

Wilson "Woody" Powell served in the Air Force during the Korean war. But in the decades since, he's become staunchly anti-war.

Read More Show Less
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Nov. 8. Matt Johnson / CC BY 2.0

By Julia Conley

Joined by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Friday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders held the largest rally of any 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to date in Iowa, drawing more than 2,400 people to Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs.

Read More Show Less