An innumerable number of devices run on lithium-ion batteries. Thanks to Rice University researchers, their size is no longer a factor (at least for mobile devices0. Prof Pulickel Ajayan and his colleagues claim to have succeeded in building complete lithium –ion energy storage device in a single nanowire. The researcher say their batteries are as small as devices can get, and hence immensely valuable as rechargeable power sources for the latest nano electronics.
The researchers tested two versions of their battery/supercapacitor hybrid. The first version resembles a sandwich comprised with nickel/tin anode, polyethylene oxide (PEO) electrolyte and polyaniline cathode layers. This setup proved that lithium ions could efficiently traverse the anode to electrolyte, and then make their way back to the supercapacitor -like cathode. The cathode is called a supercapacitor because of its ability to discharge and charge quickly using ions in bulk.
“The idea here is to fabricate nanowire energy storage devices with ultrathin separation between the electrodes.” said Arava Leela Mohana Reddy, a research scientist at Rice and co-author of the paper. “This affects the electrochemical behavior of the device. Our devices could be a very useful tool to probe nanoscale phenomenon.”
Speaking about the time it will take such batteries to actually his the streets, Sanketh Gowda, the paper’s lead author, said: “There’s a lot to be done to optimize the devices in terms of performance. Optimization of the polymer separator and its thickness and an exploration of different electrode systems could lead to improvement.