Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have developed a novel paper-like material for lithium-ion batteries. The spongelike silicon nanofibers are 100 times thinner than human hair. The technology could be used in batteries for electric vehicles and personal electronics.

The nanofibers were produced using a technique known as electrospinning, whereby 20,000 to 40,000 volts are applied between a rotating drum and a nozzle, which emits a solution composed mainly of tetraethyl orthosilicate. The material is then exposed to magnesium vapor to produce the sponge-like silicon fiber structure.

The researchers’ future work involves implementing the silicon nanofibers into a pouch cell format lithium-ion battery, which is a larger scale battery format that can be used in EVs and portable electronics.

The technology has the potential to boost by several times the amount of energy that can be delivered per unit weight of the battery.


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