People use their GPS apps, cameras, and mobile internet to navigate strange cities in search of good coffee, record "selfie" commentary while they wait in line, and upload their videos directly to social media sites while they sip their latte. But no amount of high-tech savvy can save a well-loved device from dying when its battery is drained.
Smartphones suffer from the same basic ailment that plagues solar power plants and wind farms – they lack cheap, reliable, long-life batteries to store large amounts of energy for when the sun goes down, the wind stops blowing, or the device is unplugged for a long time.
“I think almost any application in technology you can think of is currently limited by the battery,” said Amy Prieto, a chemist at Colorado State University who leads a start-up company with the goal of developing a better energy storage device. The group is nearing the prototype phase for a lithium ion battery that should be safer, cheaper, faster-charging, and more environmentally friendly than conventional batteries now on the market. She will present her latest results at the upcoming AVS 60th International Symposium and Exhibition, held Oct. 27 – Nov. 1 in Long Beach, Calif.
Batteries today have a number of unsolved problems, including high cost, heat output, limited lifespans, and the toxic or corrosive materials used in their manufacture. But two main issues limit the functionality of modern batteries, Prieto said: low energy density and low power density.
Low energy density means that a conventional smartphone battery can’t hold enough energy in a small enough volume to power the phone for much longer than one or two days, while low power density means the battery will take hours to recharge, instead of minutes.
Prieto’s group has tackled many of these challenges by making of list of desired properties for each of the main battery components. The team then developed one component at a time – starting with a copper foam structure the team purchased to serve as the current collector on the anode side of the battery.
“Foam is relatively easy to manufacture,” says Prieto. It also has a 3D structure that increases the surface area of the electrodes and brings them closer together, which in turn increases the power density of the battery. In terms of energy density, the foam should also get more bang for the buck. The intricate 3D structures utilize the electrode material more efficiently than a flat surface.
On top of the copper foam, the researchers electroplate the anode, made from a material called copper antimonide. In a kind of bootstrap battery building, the anode then serves as an electrode for an electrochemical polymerization reaction that deposits the battery’s solid electrolyte. Finally, the team fills the space within the foam with a slurry that is dried to form the cathode. An aluminum mesh structure collects the current on the cathode side.
The electroplating equipment the team uses is inexpensive compared to the equipment needed to make other types of batteries. Prieto estimates the cost to manufacture the copper foam batteries will be about half that of conventional lithium ion batteries made in China. The team also calculates that the foam battery should store the same amount of energy as conventional batteries in two-thirds the volume, charge five to ten times faster, and last up to ten times longer.
The research team’s new battery also promises a number of safety and environmental benefits. The solid electrolyte the team chose reduces the risk of fire posed by conventional liquid electrolytes. In addition, the team relied only on water-based, non-toxic chemistry to manufacture the battery. “This was my personal dream,” says Prieto. “I didn’t think it would actually work, but it now looks like it will.”
Throughout the design process the team had to develop new ways to make known materials, such as the copper antimonide anode, and make entirely new materials, such as the polymer electrolyte. The team has tested each individual component and has successfully built a full 2D battery on a copper plate. The researchers are now in the process of integrating all the components in 3D.
Electric bikes and portable electronics are the first test applications the team plans for their foam battery. “We are less than one year from our first prototype, after which we’ll have third party testing,” says Prieto. “We’re aiming for low volume, early market beta testing shortly after that.”Presentation MS+AS+EM+EN+NS+TF-MoM8, “Manufacturing a Three-dimensional,
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE AVS 60th INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM & EXHIBITION
The Long Beach Convention Center is located at 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90802.USEFUL LINKS
This news release was prepared for AVS by the American Institute of Physics (AIP).ABOUT AVS
Catherine Meyers | Newswise
Game-changing finding pushes 3D-printing to the molecular limit
20.06.2018 | University of Nottingham
Creating a new composite fuel for new-generation fast reactors
20.06.2018 | Lobachevsky University
In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.
Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...
Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
21.06.2018 | Earth Sciences
21.06.2018 | Life Sciences
21.06.2018 | Earth Sciences