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article imageThe oceans inspire a new generation of batteries

By Tim Sandle     Sep 14, 2015 in Science
Scientists, inspired by life in the oceans, have developed a system that enhances the electrochemical performance of lithium-ion batteries. This is through hierarchical porous carbon spheres to function as anodes.
The inspiration for the novel way of manufacturing batteries has come from unicellular algae. Algae are found throughout the seas of the world and such unicellular organisms are considered to be among the oldest forms of life. What is interesting about the algae is that the organisms contain organic macromolecules. These molecules can function as templates to induce the precipitation of silica building blocks, which, in turn form the complex structures.
One such structural application of interest to scientists is as hierarchical carbon materials to be used as anodic components of batteries. An anode is an electrode; conventional current flows through the electrode into a polarized electrical device (a battery).
In a recent study, scientists used organic macromolecules, inspired from the inner molecular workings of algae, as the basis to construct interconnected mesopores (carbon scaffolds of the spheres). Unlike conventional battery anodes which only contain carbon, the new spheres were doped with nitrogen.
The research group undertook testing of the carbon spheres as anodes in lithium-ion batteries. The modified batteries were tested and showed improved performance, including good cycling stability. The performance increase was 600-fold.
Moreover, the researchers think these types of batteries can be charged faster than standard batteries prepared from unmodified carbon materials.
The research was conducted at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore. The research has been published in the journal Chemistry of Materials, in a paper titled “Bioinspired Synthesis of Hierarchical Porous Graphitic Carbon Spheres with Outstanding High-Rate Performance in Lithium-Ion Batteries.”
More about Batteries, Carbon, alage
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