Scientists create potential wonder material for batteries "by accident"

Signal of change / Scientists create potential wonder material for batteries "by accident"

By Carolina Altenburger / 16 May 2019

For the first time, individual nanoribbons have been created - with the potential to revolutionise a range of technologies, according to the scientists behind the breakthrough at University College London (UCL). The team was trying to separate layers of phosphorus crystals into two-dimensional sheets, and found they created nanoribbons instead.  

The phosphorene nanoribbons are “tagliatelle-like ribbons” only one single atom thick and can be up to 100,000 atoms long. Their width/length ratio is described as to be similar to the one of “the cables that span the Golden Gate Bridge”. The combination of phosphorene, a 2-dimensional substance and nanoribbons, a very flexible one-dimensional material, lead to their uniform and manipulatable width and flexibility that allows fine-tuning of conducting electricity and incredible adaptability to any surface contours.

So what?

The unique properties could have an effect on several technologies, such as batteries, quantum computing, and wearable devices. The team claims phosphorene nanoribbons used in power battery technology could lead to a significant decrease in charging time (up to 1000 times faster) and could double the battery's capacity.

Is this new discovery going to have an impact on the renewable energy sector? Will the electric vehicle industry improve through implementing this new technology in their developments? 

Currently, lithium ions are used in batteries. The extraction of lithium is often environmentally harmful and it is expected that with a rise in demand for electric batteries the lithium reserves won’t last. The phosphorene nanoribbons could provide the possibility to substitute lithium ions with sodium ions which are abundant and rather cheap to source. 

Sources

https://theconversation.com/we-accidentally-created-a-new-wonder-material-that-could-revolutionise-batteries-and-electronics-115347 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1074-x

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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