Lithium-ion batteries are used to power a wide range of electronic devices, including computers, cameras, digital audio players and calculators. Tremendous effort has been devoted to the development of lithium-ion batteries, especially in improving the efficiency and integrity of the battery electrodes.
Cobalt oxide nanoparticles embedded in carbon fibers (left) to form peapod-like structures improve the lifetime of electrodes in lithium-ion batteries.
Copyright : Left: 2010 ACS. Right: iStockphoto.com/pixhook
This is because during the discharging and charging processes, lithium ions are repeatedly incorporated into and extracted from the electrodes by alloy formation or chemical conversion. These recurring events are known to cause the progressive degradation of the electrodes, irreversibly damaging battery performance.
Yu Wang at the A*STAR Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences and co-workers have now demonstrated an elegant strategy to reduce the degradation problem and increase the capacity retention of lithium-ion batteries over many charge–discharge cycles. The strategy involves the use of a composite material with a peapod structure comprising cobalt oxide (Co3O4) nanoparticles embedded in carbon fibers (see image).
Cobalt oxide is a promising material for anodes in lithium-ion batteries because its capacity for holding ions is higher than that of conventional electrode materials, such as tin. In addition, Co3O4 can be easily converted to LiCoO2, which is the material currently used in commercial cathodes. The researchers made the peapod structures by heating cobalt carbonate hydroxide nanobelts coated with layers of polymerized glucose in an inert atmosphere at 700 ºC and then in air at 250 ºC. Electrodes built using the peapod composite had enhanced lithium storage and capacity retention—delivering 91% of the total possible capacity after 50 charge–discharge cycles.
“The Co3O4 nanoparticles act as active materials to store lithium ions and the hollow carbon fibers protect and prevent the Co3O4 nanoparticles from aggregating and collapsing,” says Wang. The carbon fibers also play the role of conducting electrons from the nanoparticles.
According to Wang, aside from the promising application in lithium-ion batteries, the fabrication of the peapod composite is an achievement in itself, as it is the first time that such isolated magnetic nanoparticles embedded in hollow fibers have been produced. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that the peapod composite exhibits a uniform morphology, with pod lengths of up to several micrometers and pod diameters of as small as 50 nanometers. The researchers believe that their method could be extended to generate encapsulated nanoparticles using a wide range of materials with applications beyond lithium-ion batteries, for example, in gene engineering, catalysis, gas sensing and the manufacture of capacitors and magnets.
The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences.
 Wang, Y. et al. Designed functional systems from peapod-like Co@carbon to Co3O4@carbon nanocomposites. ACS Nano 4, 4753–4761 (2010).
An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk
20.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Treated carbon pulls radioactive elements from water
20.01.2017 | Rice University
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences