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Rice University Researchers Build Battery in a Nanowire

/u69/nanowire_battery.jpg" width="225" height="229" style="float: right;" />A team of engineers from Rice University in Houston, Texas, constructed what amounts to a full blown battery where all the essential components are integrated into a single nanowire, reports. The research team says their accomplishment could help give researchers a better understanding of electrochemistry at the nanoscale level, and with a bit of tweaking, it could one day be used to power nanoelectronic devices.

"Our work here has for the first time demonstrated the fabrication of all three major components of an energy storage device – anode, electrolyte, and cathode – on a single nanowire," Ajayan told "This represents the ultimate form of miniaturization promised by nanotechnology and an advance in fabricating more complex and functional nanowire building blocks for future nanotechnology applications."

The research team tested two versions of the hybrid electrochemical device (HED), which combines the high energy of a battery with the high power of a supercapacitor into a single design. One version consists of a new thin-film hybrid electochemical system comprised of a nickel-tin (Ni-Sn) anode and polyaniline (PANI) cathode. The second version is the same system, but on a nanowire array. Researchers say they used nanowire templates with pore diameters of about 200nm. They coated the pores with a thin copper layer, and then filled the pores halfway with Ni-SN to make the anode. The pores had to be chemically widened to then coat the Ni-Sn with a thin layer of polyethylene oxide (PEO) electrolyte that served as the separator. The last step involved integrating the PANI cathode into the structure by an infiltration process. When finished, the nanowire battery measured a few micrometers long with a total area of around 0.5cm2.

"The idea here is to fabricate nanowire energy storage devices with ultrathin separation between the electrodes," said Arava Leela Mohana Reddy, a research scientist at Rice and co-author of the paper. "This affects the electrochemical behavior of the device. Our devices could be a very useful tool to probe nanoscale phenomena."

Plenty more geeky details to wrap your noggin around here and here.

Image Credit: Ajayan Lab / Rice University

08-01-2011, 05:23 PM
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