A Breakthrough in
TIN | Smartphones, golf carts and cochlear
implants all benefit from rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Now, tin could be the key to
getting the batteries in these devices to charge
in minutes instead of hours.
Vilas Pol, an associate professor of chemical
engineering, has found that by replacing
conventional graphite electrodes with a
network of tin-oxide nanoparticles, charging
time can be drastically reduced.
Batteries have two electrodes, an anode and
a cathode. The anodes in most of today’s
lithium-ion batteries are made of graphite.
The theoretical maximum storage capacity of
graphite is limited to 372 milliamp hours per
gram, hindering significant advances in battery
When replacing graphite “porous interconnect-ed” tin-oxide based anodes, which have nearly
twice the theoretical charging capacity, Pol’s
team charged experimental anodes in 30
minutes and with a capacity of 430 milliamp
hours per gram. That’s because the tin oxide
nanoparticles, when heated at 400 degrees
Celsius, can self-assemble into a network
containing pores, which allows the material
to expand and contract during the charge-discharge battery cycle.
“We are not using any sophisticated chemistry
here. This is very straightforward rapid
‘cooking’ of a metal-organic precursor in boiling
water,” Pol says. “It will certainly become fully
affordable in the perspective of broad scale
application.” | L. T. VILAS POL