Lithium-ion batteries have enabled many of today’s electronics, from portable gadgets to electric cars. But much to the frustration of consumers, none of these batteries last long without a recharge. Now scientists report in ACS Nano the development of a new, “green” way to boost the performance of these batteries—with a material derived from silk.
Chuanbao Cao and colleagues note that carbon is a key component in commercial Li-ion energy storage devices including batteries and supercapacitors. Most commonly, graphite fills that role, but it has a limited energy capacity. To improve the energy storage, manufacturers are looking for an alternative material to replace graphite. Cao’s team wanted to see if they could develop such a material using a sustainable source.
The researchers found a way to process natural silk to create carbon-based nanosheets that could potentially be used in energy storage devices. Their material stores five times more lithium than graphite can—a capacity that is critical to improving battery performance. It also worked for over 10,000 cycles with only a 9% loss in stability. The researchers successfully incorporated their material in prototype batteries and supercapacitors in a one-step method that could easily be scaled up, the researchers note.
Source: American Chemical Society