Its performance is three times higher than previous versions
Lower production costs and environmentally friendly
Once again nature has inspired research and once again inspiration has struck when a researcher was relaxing.
A few months ago Zachary Favors, from the University of California Riverside, was spending some leisure time at the beach and he did something we have all done at some point: he picked up a little sand. However, instead of letting it sift through his fingers, he noticed that it is mainly made of quartz, or in other words silicon dioxide. Using sand from the beach as a material, he and his team at the Riverside Faculty of Engineering have now created a lithium ion battery which lasts three times longer than the current industry standard. As well as its excellent performance, the battery has a low production cost and is non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
Problems They Had to Resolve
The team of researchers – Mihrimah Ozkan, Cengiz Ozkan and Zachary Favors – work to improve lithium ion batteries; mainly focusing on the anode or negative side of the battery. The most widely used material at present is graphite. However, as the power of electronic devices is constantly increasing, this material is no longer as effective. The industry has sought an alternative in nanometric silicon, but this presents its own problems: it degrades easily and large-scale production is complicated. Favors’ team has resolved both issues and their research has been published in Scientific Reports, part of the Nature group.
Solving the Problems
After the episode at the beach, Favors returned to the UC Riverside laboratory. There he milled the sand to a nanometric scale and purified it. He dissolved two other elements from the sea, salt and magnesium, into the purified quartz and he heated the resultant mixture. He obtained pure silicon. Furthermore, the team noticed that the pure silicon at nano scale has a porous structure which makes the battery’s performance even higher, up to three times the normal level. This discovery will benefit all of us as consumers, as it will prolong the useful life of the batteries we use in our mobiles and significantly reduce the need to recharge them.