Nano-electrodes may lead to phones that charge in seconds, electric cars in minutes

March 23, 2011

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a three-dimensional nanostructure for battery cathodes that allows for dramatically faster charging and discharging without sacrificing energy storage capacity, says professor Paul Braun.

Using self-assembly, Braun’s team wrap a thin film of active material onto a lattice of tiny spheres, achieving both high active volume (high capacity) and large current. They have demonstrated lithium-ion (Li-ion) and nickel metal hydride (NiMH)¬†battery electrodes that can charge or discharge in a few seconds, 10 to 100 times faster than equivalent bulk electrodes, yet perform normally in existing devices.

The bi-continuous electrode structure has small interconnects so that lithium ions can move rapidly and a metal framework with good electrical conductivity. The thin film allows for very fast charging and discharging,

The technology could lead to phones that charge in seconds or laptops that charge in minutes, high-power lasers and defibrillators that don’t need time to power up before or between pulses, and electric cars that charge in the time it takes to fill a tank of gas, says Braun.

Their work appears March 20 in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.