By G.P. Thomas
Steven Arnold Klankowski, a doctoral student in chemistry at the Kansas State University proposes to engineer new materials that could find applications in next generation lithium ion batteries.
Klankowski who is working under the guidance of Jun Li, professor of chemistry at the University is working to develop materials that enhance the energy storing capabilities of batteries to facilitate electric cars, mobile phones and laptops to remain functional for an extended period between charges.
Lithium ion batteries with enhanced power storage capacity will find application as an economical alternative source of power for machines and vehicles that derive their energy from renewable sources of power like solar and wind. The devices can switch to the lithium ion batteries for power when there is no sunlight or wind for power generation.
The material developed by Klankowski consists of carbon nanofibers coated with high performance silicon nanostructures. The material acts as an electrode in a lithium ion battery and resembles a dense brush that imparts improved storage capacity and charging capabilities to the battery. The new material would provide a 10% to 15% improvement in battery performance by facilitating the electrode to store energy that is ten times more than that possible with existing battery technology.
Klankowski is studying the difference in properties of the lithium-silicon alloy material as it progresses through each production cycle. Efforts are on to bridge the gap between batteries and capacitors which are on opposite sides of the energy storage spectrum and to achieve durability in combination with high capacity for energy storage.