Stanford researchers have found a way to use silicon nanowires to reinvent the popular rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power most of our mobile 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. A laptop that now runs on battery for two hours could operate for 20 hours, a smartphone can run more than a week without the need for recharging.  

“It’s not a small improvement,” Cui said. “It’s a revolutionary development.”

The breakthrough is described in a paper, “High-performance lithium battery anodes using silicon nanowires,” published online Dec. 16 in Nature Nanotechnology, written by Cui, his graduate chemistry student Candace Chan and five others.

The greatly expanded storage capacity could make Li-ion batteries attractive to electric car manufacturers. Cui suggested that they could also be used in homes or offices to store electricity generated by rooftop solar panels. But unlike most prototype projects that never see the daylight, Cui said: “Given the mature infrastructure behind silicon, this new technology can be pushed to real life quickly”. 

[Thanks Scott B.! Source Stanford New Services]

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