Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Silicon strategy shows promise for batteries

Microscopic pores dot a silicon wafer prepared for use in a lithium-ion battery. Silicon has great potential to increase the storage capacity of batteries, and the pores help it expand and contract as lithium is stored and released. (Credit: Biswal Lab/Rice University)
Microscopic pores dot a silicon wafer prepared for use in a lithium-ion battery. Silicon has great potential to increase the storage capacity of batteries, and the pores help it expand and contract as lithium is stored and released. (Credit: Biswal Lab/Rice University)

Abstract:
Rice researchers advance lithium-ion technique for electric cars, large-capacity storage

Silicon strategy shows promise for batteries

Houston, TX | Posted on October 13th, 2010

A team of Rice University and Lockheed Martin scientists has discovered a way to use simple silicon to radically increase the capacity of lithium-ion batteries.

Sibani Lisa Biswal, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, revealed how she, colleague Michael Wong, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and of chemistry, and Steven Sinsabaugh, a Lockheed Martin Fellow, are enhancing the inherent ability of silicon to absorb lithium ions.

Their work was introduced today at Rice's Buckyball Discovery Conference, part of a yearlong celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the buckminsterfullerene, or carbon 60, molecule. It could become a key component for electric car batteries and large-capacity energy storage, they said.

"The anode, or negative, side of today's batteries is made of graphite, which works. It's everywhere," Wong said. "But it's maxed out. You can't stuff any more lithium into graphite than we already have."

Silicon has the highest theoretical capacity of any material for storing lithium, but there's a serious drawback to its use. "It can sop up a lot of lithium, about 10 times more than carbon, which seems fantastic," Wong said. "But after a couple of cycles of swelling and shrinking, it's going to crack."

Other labs have tried to solve the problem with carpets of silicon nanowires that absorb lithium like a mop soaks up water, but the Rice team took a different tack.

With Mahduri Thakur, a post-doctoral researcher in Rice's Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, and Mark Isaacson of Lockheed Martin, Biswal, Wong and Sinsabaugh found that putting micron-sized pores into the surface of a silicon wafer gives the material sufficient room to expand. While common lithium-ion batteries hold about 300 milliamp hours per gram of carbon-based anode material, they determined the treated silicon could theoretically store more than 10 times that amount.

Sinsabaugh described the breakthrough as one of the first fruits of the Lockheed Martin Advanced Nanotechnology Center of Excellence at Rice (LANCER). He said the project began three years ago when he met Biswal at Rice and compared notes. "She was working on porous silicon, and I knew silicon nanostructures were being looked at for battery anodes. We put two and two together," he said.

Nanopores are simpler to create than silicon nanowires, Biswal said. The pores, a micron wide and from 10 to 50 microns long, form when positive and negative charge is applied to the sides of a silicon wafer, which is then bathed in a hydrofluoric solvent. "The hydrogen and fluoride atoms separate," she said. "The fluorine attacks one side of the silicon, forming the pores. They form vertically because of the positive and negative bias."

The treated silicon, she said, "looks like Swiss cheese."

The straightforward process makes it highly adaptable for manufacturing, she said. "We don't require some of the difficult processing steps they do -- the high vacuums and having to wash the nanotubes. Bulk etching is much simpler to process.

"The other advantage is that we've seen fairly long lifetimes. Our current batteries have 200-250 cycles, much longer than nanowire batteries," said Biswal.

They said putting pores in silicon requires a real balancing act, as the more space is dedicated to the holes, the less material is available to store lithium. And if the silicon expands to the point where the pore walls touch, the material could degrade.

The researchers are confident that cheap, plentiful silicon combined with ease of manufacture could help push their idea into the mainstream.

"We are very excited about the potential of this work," Sinsabaugh said. "This material has the potential to significantly increase the performance of lithium-ion batteries, which are used in a wide range of commercial, military and aerospace applications

Biswal and Wong plan to study the mechanism by which silicon absorbs lithium and how and why it breaks down. "Our goal is to develop a model of the strain that silicon undergoes in cycling lithium," Wong said. "Once we understand that, we'll have a much better idea of how to maximize its potential."

Lockheed Martin is a sponsor of Rice's Year of Nano.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
David Ruth
713-348-6327


Mike Williams
713-348-6728

Copyright © Rice University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

New low-cost technique converts bulk alloys to oxide nanowires January 24th, 2017

News from Quorum: Experienced electron microscopist, David McCarthy, talks about working with Quorum and his use of their coaters and cryo-SEM preparation instrumentation January 24th, 2017

Tough aqua material for water purification: Decontamination of water with a robust and sustainable membrane assembled from 2 synergistically working components January 24th, 2017

Harris & Harris Group Announces the Filing of Preliminary Proxy Materials Detailing Its Proposed Conversion From a BDC to a Registered Closed-End Fund January 24th, 2017

Possible Futures

New low-cost technique converts bulk alloys to oxide nanowires January 24th, 2017

Harris & Harris Group Announces the Filing of Preliminary Proxy Materials Detailing Its Proposed Conversion From a BDC to a Registered Closed-End Fund January 24th, 2017

The speed limit for intra-chip communications in microprocessors of the future January 23rd, 2017

New, old science combine to make faster medical test: Nanoparticles and Faraday rotation allow faster diagnoses January 23rd, 2017

Academic/Education

Oxford Nanoimaging report on how the Nanoimager, a desktop microscope delivering single molecule, super-resolution performance, is being applied at the MRC Centre for Molecular Bacteriology & Infection November 22nd, 2016

The University of Applied Sciences in Upper Austria uses Deben tensile stages as an integral part of their computed tomography research and testing facility October 18th, 2016

Enterprise In Space Partners with Sketchfab and 3D Hubs for NewSpace Education October 13th, 2016

New Agricultural Research Center Debuts at UCF October 12th, 2016

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes

Captured on video: DNA nanotubes build a bridge between 2 molecular posts: Research may lead to new lines of direct communication with cells January 9th, 2017

Nano-chimneys can cool circuits: Rice University scientists calculate tweaks to graphene would form phonon-friendly cones January 4th, 2017

WPI researchers build liquid biopsy chip that detects metastatic cancer cells in blood December 15th, 2016

Infrared instrumentation leader secures exclusive use of Vantablack coating December 5th, 2016

Announcements

New low-cost technique converts bulk alloys to oxide nanowires January 24th, 2017

News from Quorum: Experienced electron microscopist, David McCarthy, talks about working with Quorum and his use of their coaters and cryo-SEM preparation instrumentation January 24th, 2017

Tough aqua material for water purification: Decontamination of water with a robust and sustainable membrane assembled from 2 synergistically working components January 24th, 2017

Harris & Harris Group Announces the Filing of Preliminary Proxy Materials Detailing Its Proposed Conversion From a BDC to a Registered Closed-End Fund January 24th, 2017

Energy

New low-cost technique converts bulk alloys to oxide nanowires January 24th, 2017

A big nano boost for solar cells: Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies January 21st, 2017

Chemists Cook up New Nanomaterial and Imaging Method: Nanomaterials can store all kinds of things, including energy, drugs and other cargo January 19th, 2017

Dressing a metal in various colors: DGIST research developed a technology to coat metal with several nanometers of semiconducting materials January 17th, 2017

Automotive/Transportation

Nanoscale view of energy storage January 16th, 2017

Illinois team advances GaN-on-Silicon for scalable high electron mobility transistors January 10th, 2017

Going green with nanotechnology December 21st, 2016

Scientists boost catalytic activity for key chemical reaction in fuel cells: New platinum-based catalysts with tensile surface strain could improve fuel cell efficiency December 19th, 2016

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics/Energy storage

Chemists Cook up New Nanomaterial and Imaging Method: Nanomaterials can store all kinds of things, including energy, drugs and other cargo January 19th, 2017

Nanoscale view of energy storage January 16th, 2017

One step closer to reality: Devices that convert heat into electricity: Composite material yields 10 times -- or higher -- voltage output January 4th, 2017

STMicroelectronics Peps Up Booming Social-Fitness Scene with Smart Motion Sensors for Better Accuracy, Longer Battery Life, and Faster Time to Market January 2nd, 2017

Research partnerships

New low-cost technique converts bulk alloys to oxide nanowires January 24th, 2017

New, old science combine to make faster medical test: Nanoparticles and Faraday rotation allow faster diagnoses January 23rd, 2017

A big nano boost for solar cells: Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies January 21st, 2017

Chemists Cook up New Nanomaterial and Imaging Method: Nanomaterials can store all kinds of things, including energy, drugs and other cargo January 19th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project