Laptops and iPods to last 10 times longer, thanks to silicon nanowires

December 20th, 2007 - 4:10 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Dec 20 (ANI): Researchers at Stanford University, US, have found a way to use silicon nanowires to increase the power of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power laptops, iPods, video cameras, cell phones, and countless other devices.

The new version, developed through research led by Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, produces 10 times the amount of electricity of existing lithium-ion, known as Li-ion, batteries.

The success of these batteries is evident in the example of a laptop which used to run for two hours, but can now operate for 20 hours using the nanowire batteries.

The greatly expanded storage capacity could make Li-ion batteries attractive to electric car manufacturers as well. The researchers suggest that they could also be used in homes or offices to store electricity generated by rooftop solar panels.

“Given the mature infrastructure behind silicon, this new technology can be pushed to real life quickly,” said Cui.

Though silicon when placed in a battery, has its own set of drawbacks like pulverizing, Cui’s battery gets around this problem with nanotechnology.

The lithium is stored in a forest of tiny silicon nanowires, each with a diameter one-thousandth the thickness of a sheet of paper. The nanowires inflate four times their normal size as they soak up lithium. But, unlike other silicon shapes, they do not fracture.

For their experiments, the research team grew the nanowires on a stainless steel substrate, providing an excellent electrical connection.

Though Cui has already filed a patent application for the batteries, he is also considering formation of a company or an agreement with a battery manufacturer.

Manufacturing the nanowire batteries would require one or two different steps, but the process can certainly be scaled up as it is a well understood process,” said Cui. (ANI)

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