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October 18th, 2008
You've likely heard of strawberry jelly, mint jelly and even royal jelly. Now Portuguese chemists have created what they call an ion jelly that could make a range of electrochemical devices, including batteries, fuel cells and solar cells, cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
The jelly is made by dissolving gelatine in an ionic liquid - a solution made up entirely of negatively and positively charged ions.
Ionic liquids conduct electricity and are generally very stable, non-flammable and non-volatile. That makes them attractive as environmentally friendly replacements for materials normally used as the electrolytes that separate the positive and negative electrodes in electrochemical devices, such as batteries.
But such electrolytes must usually be solid. And turning ionic liquids into solid form, by combining them with polymers or nanotubes, is challenging and expensive.
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