Researchers from the University of Cambridge have recently discovered a group of materials that could be used to make any batteries charge faster than usual.
In the study published in the journal “Nature”, the researchers used materials with a complex crystalline structure and found that lithium ions move through them at rates faster than those of typical electrode materials which we use in our day-to-day lives.
Although these materials, known as Niobium Tungsten Oxides, do not result in higher energy densities when used under typical cycling rates, they come into their own for fast charging applications, the study said.
“Many battery materials are based on the same two or three crystal structures, but these Niobium Tungsten Oxides are fundamentally different than others,” said Kent Griffith–a postdoctoral researcher in Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry and the paper’s first author.
The oxides are held open by “Pillars of Oxygen”, which enable Lithium ions to move through them in three dimensions.
“The oxygen pillars, or shear planes, make these materials more rigid than other general battery compounds so that more Lithium ions can move through them, and far more quickly,” Griffith added.
In their simplest form, batteries are made of three components: A Positive Electrode, Negative Electrode, and an Electrolyte. When a battery is charging, Lithium ions are extracted from the positive electrode and move through the crystal structure and Electrolyte to the Negative Electrode, where they are stored. The faster this process occurs, the faster the battery can be charged.
Using a technique called Pulsed Field Gradient (PFG) Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy, which is not instantly applied to battery electrode materials, the researchers measured the movement of Lithium ions through the oxides and found that they moved at rates several orders of magnitude higher than typical electrode materials.
Besides a possibility of a smartphone which could be fully charged in minutes, better batteries can also lead to the widespread adoption of two major clean technologies: electric cars and grid-scale storage for solar power.
Hence, the discovery has spread positive vibes in the industries and business verticals.