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Silicon Nanowires Before and After Absorbing Lithium  (Source: Stanford News Service)
New lithium-ion battery using silicon nanowires will store ten times the energy of current lithium-ion batteries

Many electronic devices -- from notebooks to cell phones -- rely on batteries for operation. Rechargeable batteries account for much of the weight in today’s electronic devices so the size of the battery has to be tempered with battery life to get an ideal product.

Stanford assistant professor of materials science and engineering Yi Cui, graduate student Candace Chan and five other researchers made a breakthrough for lithium-ion batteries. The researchers used silicon nanowires in the battery anodes to design new lithium-ion batteries that can hold ten times the electrical charge of current batteries of the same size.

Cui told the Stanford News Service, “It's not a small improvement. It's a revolutionary development.” Cui and his team were able to get the greatly increased electrical storage capacity by growing silicon nanowires on a stainless steel substrate, which provides excellent electrical conduction.

Researchers say that the amount of energy a currently lithium-ion battery can store is dependent on the amount of lithium it can store in its anode typically made from carbon. Silicon has a higher storage capacity than carbon. The use of silicon in lithium-ion batteries had been attempted before but the growing and shrinking process caused by adding and removing lithium caused the silicon to break down severely degrading the performance of the battery.

Chan says, “The people kind of gave up on it [silicon] because the capacity wasn't high enough and the cycle life wasn't good enough. And it was just because of the shape they were using. It was just too big, and they couldn't undergo the volume changes.”

The silicon nanowires used in the researcher’s batteries are tiny at about one-thousandth of the thickness of a sheet of paper and are able to inflate to four times their normal size as they take in lithium without breaking during the duty cycle of the battery. The researchers say that the infrastructure behind silicon is mature meaning the new technology could be pushed to market quickly.

Cui has filed a patent application and is considering starting a company to product batteries based on the technology or collaborating with an established battery maker. This development could also mean much smaller and lighter batteries than we have today that store as much electricity, which would be a huge boon for mobile electronics.

Cui sees the new and improved lithium-ion batteries as being particularly interesting to electric vehicle makers such as GM with its Chevy Volt due in 2010.

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RE: Awesome
By alan328 on 12/23/2007 9:20:15 AM , Rating: 2
The issue isn't daily driving. It's that people don't want to have to own one car for daily driving and one to take vacations with.

Hi everyone, i am from Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is famous for danger level of air polution.
Everyday, on the news is like this: "Tomorrow polution index is HIGH to VERY HIGH. People are recommended to stay indoor."

Believe it or not... it is the daily life of HK people...

HK urgently needed to replace all cars with EVs. And, 100 miles per a charge is more than enough for HK, because it means you can drive around the whole city many many times.

But why HK people are still not using EVs? the answer is cost of the battery. A pack of battery cost $40K to 100K HK$, and you need to replace the battery every 3 - 5 years. That is simplely not cost effective when comparing with the cost of gas you may consume in the same duration (a lot of car owners told me the same answer when i ask them why don't they change to EVs in HK).

What dose this new technology mean to HK car owners? For the same capicity of battery, the size of battery will be decrease to 1/10.... which also means Li-ion material inside the battery decease to 1/10.... the result is the cost of replacing the battery is a lot cheaper.

If replacing the battery every 3 - 5 years is still much cheaper than the gas one would consume during the same period, everyone will change to EV. Wish that day come soon.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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