Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Designing Ion ‘Highway Systems’ for Batteries: A McCormick team advanced the understanding of plastics for battery application

Monica Olvera de la Cruz
Monica Olvera de la Cruz

Abstract:
Since the early 1970s, lithium has been the most popular element for batteries: it's the lightest of all metals and has the greatest electrochemical potential.

Designing Ion ‘Highway Systems’ for Batteries: A McCormick team advanced the understanding of plastics for battery application

Evanston, IL | Posted on June 9th, 2014

But a lithium-based battery has a major disadvantage: it's highly flammable, and when it overheats, it can burst into flames. For years, scientists have searched for safer battery materials that still have the same advantages as lithium. While plastics (or polymers) seemed like an obvious choice, researchers never fully understood how the material would change when an ion charge was introduced.

Now a McCormick team has married two traditional theories in materials science that can explain how the charge dictates the structure of the material. This opens the door for many applications, including a new class of batteries.

"There is a huge effort to go beyond lithium in a flammable solvent," says Monica Olvera de la Cruz, Lawyer Taylor Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and senior author of the paper. "People have been looking at alternatives that are not explosive, like plastics. But they didn't know how to compute what happens when you put in a charge."

The team looked at plastics known as block copolymers (BCPs) that are two types of polymers stuck together. They are a leading material for use as ion conductors because they self-assemble into nanostructures that both enable ion charge transport and maintain structural integrity. BCPs innately have nano-channels through which the ion can travel, but the charges themselves manipulate the shape of the channels. To use the material in batteries, researchers must find a way to control the shape of the nano-channels, so that the charge moves well.

"If you can optimize the ability of the charge to move through the system, then you can optimize the power that actually comes out of the battery," says Charles Sing, a postdoctoral fellow in Olvera de la Cruz's lab and first author of the paper.

The problem lies in the structure of the material. BCPs are very long chains of molecules. When they are stretched out, they extend over distances much greater than the typical size of the ion charges. However, the charges still have a strong effect on the nano-channels despite being much smaller. To properly understand the dynamics of BCPs, different theories are needed for the different length scales.

To understand how the ion charge changes the structure of the BCPs' nano-channels, Sing and Jos Zwanikken, a research assistant professor in the same lab, combined two traditional theories: the Self-Consistent Field Theory and Liquid State Theory. Self-Consistent Field Theory describes how long molecules behave.

"Liquid State Theory, on the other hand, describes how charges operate on very local, atomic levels," Zwanikken says.

While these two theories have been studied, in-depth, for decades, no one has previously put them together. When combined, they provide a new way of looking at the nano-channel systems. The electrical charge, known as an ion, is associated with an oppositely charged molecule, known as a counter-ion, which is also present in the nano-channel. Together, these ions and counter-ions are highly attracted to each other and form a salt. These salts cluster into miniature crystals, which exert a force on the nano-channels, changing their structure.

Olvera de la Cruz and her group found that these two effects balance one another—the salts want to form mini-crystals, which forces the nano-channel to deform. This understanding makes it possible to predict and even design a "highway system" through which the ions are transported, maximizing the power of the battery.

The team hopes their finding will guide experimentalists as they test materials. It will give researchers more information about the physical concepts underlying BCP systems.

Olvera de la Cruz says, "We have provided the tools to understand these systems by including ionic-length scale effects into the polymer mesoscale morphology."

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, International Institute of Nanotechnology, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Megan Fellman

847-491-3115

Copyright © Northwestern 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 Links

“Electrostatic control of block copolymer morphology” appeared in the June 8 issue of Nature Materials:

Related News Press

News and information

Graphene key to growing 2-dimensional semiconductor with extraordinary properties August 30th, 2016

University of Akron researchers find thin layers of water can become ice-like at room temperature: Results could lead to an assortment of anti-friction solutions August 30th, 2016

Nanocatalysis for organic chemistry: This research article by Dr. Qien Xu et al. is published in Current Organic Chemistry, Volume 20, Issue 19, 2016 August 30th, 2016

Continuous roll-process technology for transferring and packaging flexible LSI August 29th, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Graphene key to growing 2-dimensional semiconductor with extraordinary properties August 30th, 2016

Analog DNA circuit does math in a test tube: DNA computers could one day be programmed to diagnose and treat disease August 25th, 2016

New approach to determining how atoms are arranged in materials August 25th, 2016

Johns Hopkins scientists track metabolic pathways to find drug combination for pancreatic cancer August 25th, 2016

Discoveries

Graphene key to growing 2-dimensional semiconductor with extraordinary properties August 30th, 2016

University of Akron researchers find thin layers of water can become ice-like at room temperature: Results could lead to an assortment of anti-friction solutions August 30th, 2016

Nanocatalysis for organic chemistry: This research article by Dr. Qien Xu et al. is published in Current Organic Chemistry, Volume 20, Issue 19, 2016 August 30th, 2016

Meteorite impact on a nano scale August 29th, 2016

Materials/Metamaterials

Graphene key to growing 2-dimensional semiconductor with extraordinary properties August 30th, 2016

A promising route to the scalable production of highly crystalline graphene films August 26th, 2016

Graphene under pressure August 26th, 2016

Semblant to Present at China Mobile Manufacturing Forum 2016 August 25th, 2016

Announcements

Graphene key to growing 2-dimensional semiconductor with extraordinary properties August 30th, 2016

University of Akron researchers find thin layers of water can become ice-like at room temperature: Results could lead to an assortment of anti-friction solutions August 30th, 2016

Nanocatalysis for organic chemistry: This research article by Dr. Qien Xu et al. is published in Current Organic Chemistry, Volume 20, Issue 19, 2016 August 30th, 2016

Meteorite impact on a nano scale August 29th, 2016

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

University of Akron researchers find thin layers of water can become ice-like at room temperature: Results could lead to an assortment of anti-friction solutions August 30th, 2016

Nanocatalysis for organic chemistry: This research article by Dr. Qien Xu et al. is published in Current Organic Chemistry, Volume 20, Issue 19, 2016 August 30th, 2016

Continuous roll-process technology for transferring and packaging flexible LSI August 29th, 2016

Meteorite impact on a nano scale August 29th, 2016

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

Continuous roll-process technology for transferring and packaging flexible LSI August 29th, 2016

Stretchy supercapacitors power wearable electronics August 25th, 2016

New electrical energy storage material shows its power: Nanomaterial combines attributes of both batteries and supercapacitors August 25th, 2016

Lehigh engineer discovers a high-speed nano-avalanche: New findings published in the Journal of Electrochemical Society about the process involving transformations in glass that occur under intense electrical and thermal conditions could lead the way to more energy-efficient glas August 24th, 2016

Grants/Awards/Scholarships/Gifts/Contests/Honors/Records

Graphene key to growing 2-dimensional semiconductor with extraordinary properties August 30th, 2016

A nanoscale wireless communication system via plasmonic antennas: Greater control affords 'in-plane' transmission of waves at or near visible light August 27th, 2016

Forces of nature: Interview with microscopy innovators Gerd Binnig and Christoph Gerber August 26th, 2016

New electrical energy storage material shows its power: Nanomaterial combines attributes of both batteries and supercapacitors August 25th, 2016

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







Car Brands
Buy website traffic