USC researchers announce new battery design with triple the lifespan

By using a breakthrough design for lithium batteries that eliminates one of the main factors for deterioration, particularly in the current generations of lithium-silicon cells, researchers at the University of Southern California have developed a new battery model that boasts vastly improved longevity as well as shortened charging times, as a report published in Nano Research shows.

The revolutionary batteries will be available for use in small electronic devices, cars and everything in between. They will reportedly have triple the life of a conventional graphite-based battery and can be charged in just 10 minutes, according to a release from the University.

The research group, led by USC Viterbi School of Engineering professor Chongwu Zhou, was comprised of a team of graduate students who worked to come up with a solution to a problem faced by nearly all silicon-based batteries on the market today. Currently, the anodes of batteries consist of microscopic-thin sheets of metal – silicon in the case of many newer batters – and create a current by passing lithium ions through the sheets.

However, when the ions pass through the sheets, they force the metal to expand and shrink and, over time, break down. According to the Nano Research report, the USC team scrapped the idea of using sheets all together, instead using a silicon and titanium-based nanotube array structure "that is much more conducive to letting the ions pass through it than the solid sheets.

"It's an exciting research. It opens the door for the design of the next generation lithium-ion batteries," said Zhou, who was instrumental in the design of the arrays, which are less than 100 nanometers wide.

The newly developed array for the battery, which involves both silicon and titanium-based substances, is an example of how bonding dissimilar metals is a vital aspect of developing new energy technologies. Companies such as S-Bond that specialize in the creation of these components will be critical in driving future advances in the industry.

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