Washington, February 10 (ANI): Rice University researchers have announced the creation of hybrid nano-cables, which may improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries.
Research leader Pulickel Ajayan has revealed that the idea is to grow nanotubes in such a manner that they look and act like the coaxial conducting lines used in cables.
The coax tubes consist of a manganese oxide shell and a highly conductive nanotube core.
"It's a nice bit of nanoscale engineering," said Ajayan, Rice's Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science.
"We've put in two materials - the nanotube, which is highly electrically conducting and can also absorb lithium, and the manganese oxide, which has very high capacity but poor electrical conductivity. But when you combine them, you get something interesting," added Arava Leela Mohana Reddy, a Rice post doc researcher.
The researchers believe that the the number of charge/discharge cycles such batteries can handle can be greatly enhanced, even with a larger capacity.
"Although the combination of these materials has been studied as a composite electrode by several research groups, it's the coaxial cable design of these materials that offers improved performance as electrodes for lithium batteries," said Ajayan.
"At this point, we're trying to engineer and modify the structures to get the best performance," said Manikoth Shaijumon, also a Rice postdoc.
The researchers say that the microscopic nanotubes, only a few nanometers across, can be bundled into any number of configurations.
According to them, future batteries may be thin and flexible.
"And the whole idea can be transferred to a large scale as well. It is very manufacturable," Shaijumon said.
The hybrid nano-cables grown in a Rice-developed process could also eliminate the need for binders, materials used in current batteries that hold the elements together but hinder their conductivity. (ANI)