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New tech uses nanotubes to boost lithium battery performance

updated 03:15 pm EDT, Mon June 21, 2010

System offers 5X capacity of capacitors

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed new ways to fabricate lithium ion batteries with performance characteristics that bridge the gap between standard power cells and capacitors. The technology takes advantage of carbon nanotubes coated in oxygen-containing chemicals, a method which allows the tubes to work as the positive electrode.

The group of researchers, led by materials scientist Yang Shao-Horn, worked to assemble the electrode by adding layers of coated nanotubes. The porous material provides a large surface area with an abundance of oxygens that can bind with lithium to generate an electric current.

Batteries constructed using nanotube electrodes were able to store approximately five times as much energy as typical capacitors, with energy discharged ten times faster than a standard lithium ion battery, according to tests conducted by the group.

It remains unclear if the technology will eventually be used in production batteries. The early research achieved optimum performance using very thin electrodes, suitable for smaller batteries with lower capacities, however Shao-Horn is already working on a separate project that aims to build larger electrodes that could be used for other applications such as electric vehicles. [via Science]





by MacNN Staff

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