Now recharge cellphones in seconds

March 21st, 2011 - 4:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 21 (IANS) An amazing 3-D nanostructure designed and developed by scientists may make it possible to recharge mobile phones in seconds or a laptop within minutes.

The 3-D nanostructure has been designed by scientists at the University of Illinois.

The nanostructure would also charge high power lasers and defibrillators, required in surgeries, without loss of time between pulses, the journal Nature Nanotechnology reports.

Paul Braun’s group at Illinois developed the nanostructure for battery cathodes that allows for dramatically faster charging and discharging without sacrificing energy storage capacity, according to a statement.

Aside from quick-charge consumer electronics, batteries that can store a lot of energy, release it fast and recharge quickly are desirable for electric vehicles, medical devices, lasers and military applications.

“This system that we have gives you capacitor-like power with battery-like energy,” said Braun, professor of materials science and engineering at Illinois.

“Most capacitors store very little energy. They can release it very fast, but they can’t hold much. Most batteries store a reasonably large amount of energy, but they can’t provide or receive energy rapidly. This does both.”

The performance of typical lithium-ion (Li-ion) or nickel metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries degrades significantly when they are rapidly charged or discharged.

Making the active material in the battery a thin film allows for very fast charging and discharging, but reduces the capacity to nearly zero because the active material lacks volume to store energy.

Braun’s group wraps a thin film into 3D structure, achieving both high active volume (high capacity) and large current.

They have demonstrated battery electrodes that can charge or discharge in a few seconds, 10 to 100 times faster than equivalent bulk electrodes, yet can perform normally in existing devices.

Braun is particularly optimistic for the batteries’ potential in electric vehicles, which would slash charging time from half a day to a few minutes.

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