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Silicon Technology Produces Lighter, Long-Lasting Batteries

First Posted: Oct 27, 2015 04:44 PM EDT
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A team of researchers have created small, light and long-lasting batteries through the use of silicon technology.

This innovative technology could be used eventually in portable electronic devices and even electric cars, according to Zhongwei Chen, a chemical engineering professor at the University of Waterloo and his team of researchers.  

"Graphite has long been used to build the negative electrodes in lithium-ion batteries," Chen said in a news release. "But as batteries improve, graphite is slowly becoming a performance bottleneck because of the limited amount of energy that it can store."

The researchers have created a low-cost battery using silicon, which will increase the performance and life of lithium-ion batteries. The silicon technology will allow batteries to have a 40 to 60 percent increase in energy density. This feature is essential for customer with smartphones, electric vehicles and smart wearables, according to the researchers.

The new silicon battery is environmentally friendly and this will be a major plus for hybrid and electric vehicles. The researchers revealed that an electric car could be driven up to 500 kilometers between charges and the lighter batteries will reduce the weight of vehicles.

At the moment, lithium-ion batteries normally use graphite anodes. An anode is an electrical conductor through which conventional current flows into a polarized electrical device. Chen's battery on the other hand uses silicon anodes, which consists of a higher capacity for lithium and these batteries could be produced with 10 times more energy.

"Graphite has long been used to build the negative electrodes in lithium-ion batteries. But as batteries improve, graphite is slowly becoming a performance bottleneck because of the limited amount of energy that it can store," Chen said.

Chen and his team is expecting to commercialize their new technology, where batteries should be on the market in the upcoming

The findings of this study were published in the latest issue of Nature Communications.

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