Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have created a battery using pure silicon as the anode which outperforms the current standard by more than 3 times! Graduate student Zachary Favors, and Mihrimah and Cengiz Ozkan, engineering professors at UC Riverside, are the team behind this discovery of using silicon to create these high performance batteries.
The idea for this came to Favors when he noticed that the sand on the beach of San Clemente, CA was made of primarily quartz, or silicon dioxide. Favors did some research to find where sand had a high percentage of quartz which brought him to the Cedar Creek Reservoir. The sand from this reservoir was milled down to the nanoscale and purified to a powdered sugar consistency. Ground salt and magnesium were added and the result was heated. Salt for heat absorption and magnesium to react out the oxygen to be left with only pure nanoscale silicon. This pure nanoscale silicon has a sponge-like consistency that has been proven to be the key to improving battery performance.
The purpose of this research is to create a better lithium ion battery for personal electronics and electric vehicles. Graphite is the current standard material used for the anode in batteries but electronics today require more energy than graphite can produce.
There are two problems with using silicon at the nanoscale: 1. It degrades quickly 2. It’s hard to produce in large quantities. Both of these problems are being looking into by the research team.
Think about what this means. Having to charge your phone every 3 days rather than every night. Electronic vehicles able to go out farther and for longer periods of time before coming back to be recharged. Personally I believe it’s about time some great leaps in the batteries were made. I am thankful for people like Favors and the Ozkan team that are trying to create new solutions to existing problems. For more information please visit here.