Fri, Apr 14, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Research suggests new way to make smaller batteries

By Wu Po-hsuan and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

National Tsing Hua University professor Tuan Hsing-yu, center, and his research team pose in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of National Tsing Hua University

A team of researchers from National Tsing Hua University might take battery research to a new level, according to a scientific article.

The article published in the international peer-reviewed journal Nano Letters suggested refining red phosphorus to make anodes for batteries due to the material’s “abundance and a high theoretical [energy] capacity.”

The article said that while red phosphorus is already used in lithium-ion batteries, it is mainly in the form of carbon-phosphorus composites to improve “phosphorus’ extremely low conductivity and large volume change during the cycling process.”

The team conducted experiments on red phosphorus by large-scale synthesis of red phosphorus nanoparticles (RPNPs) with ethylene glycol in the presence of cetyltrimethylammonium bromide in ambient environment.

According to Tuan Hsing-yu (段興宇), one of the authors of the article, red phosphorus theoretically has more than seven times the electrical capacity of graphite, but due to its extremely low conductivity, it cannot be recharged.

Common methods involved heating up the red phosphorus to improve conductivity, which brought up the question of depleting the material, Tuan said.

Tuan said he wanted to break with tradition and after many years of analyzing data, he found phosphorus triiodide, which was used for the solution synthesis of iodine-doped RPNPs.

Iodine-doping was speculated to be the key to significantly improving the conductivity of RPNPs, the article said.

RPNP was proven in tests to have a high specific capacity, a long cycling life, and an outstanding rate capability, Tuan said.

Giving the batteries of Apple smartphones as an example, Tuan said batteries that need 6g of graphite could be made with only 1g of RPNP, which would enable the production of lighter, smaller batteries with longer lives.

Tuan said the team is applying for patents in numerous nations for the new method.

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