Posted in | Graphene

Scientists Develop New Graphene-Like Nanocomposite Material

Credit: The University of Manchester

A new nanocomposite material capable of boosting battery life and improving the performance of daily gadgets such as tablets, smartphones and laptops has been developed by scientists.

Scientists from The University of Manchester’s School of Materials, working along with researchers from Henan Polytechnic University in China, have produced the nanocomposite capable of merging the chemical structure of Lithium ion batteries with MXene, which is a 2D material comprising of a ‘graphene-like’ structure along with other unique properties. The research has been featured in Journal of Alloys and Compounds.

For all major smartphone and tablet manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung and Sony, lithium ion batteries are the battery of choice. They are also employed in several other gadgets ranging from digital cameras to wearable tech like smartwatches and Fitbits.

These battery types are popular with the manufacturers since they have greater power density, larger power output and a prolonged lifecycle when compared to earlier battery technologies. However, they also have a few key disadvantages, such as poor electronic conductivity, which can influence the performance.

We have successfully prepared a novel hybrid nanocomposite which has an excellent electrochemical performance for lithium ion batteries. This exceptional electrochemical performance can be attributed to the improvement of electronic conductivity by nano-size lithium particles in the composite. This means the developed nanocomposite has an excellent capability for energy capacity and retention. Nanocomposites are used as building blocks to design and create new materials with unprecedented flexibility and other much improved physical properties and attributes. Simply put, it delivers much better energy storage, capacity and performance than current lithium ion batteries.

Dr Xuqing Liu, School of Materials, University of Manchester

MXene is used for a number of different purposes going beyond energy storage, including sticking atoms together – a process called adsorption. The 2D material itself is only few atoms thick and developed from layers of metal carbides, carbonitrides or nitrides.

The isolation of graphene at Manchester resulted in the discovery of a complete family of 2D materials which can be incorporated with graphene in order to develop new 'designer materials'. Combinations of these 2D materials are known as heterostructures - small towers with varied layers of different materials.

Any combination is possible, meaning new materials can be produced from the ground up on an atomic level. Nanocomposites are capable of measuring between 1 to 100 nm, which is only 0.0001 mm.

Energy storage is one of MXene’s most promising areas and, due to its excellent electrical conductivity, it can be used as an additive in composite materials to decrease resistances and improve electron transfer in nanocomposites. This could change the way our everyday gadgets are charged. Lithium ion batteries have already meant longer battery life, but this will be the next step in that technological evolution.

Dr Xuqing Liu, School of Materials, University of Manchester

The full paper, ‘The Novel Li4Ti5O12/Ti3C2Tx nanocomposite as a high rate anode material for lithium ion batteries’, will be featured in Journal of Alloys and Compounds - doi.org/10.1016/j.jallcom.2017.11.164

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