In this fast-moving world of technology, electronic gadgets have become an integral part of our lives. Wherever we go, our mobile phones, smartwatches and laptops go with us. And there's nothing wrong with that. They indeed make our work easy. The only hiccup that comes with these gadgets is the charging of their batteries. In fact, it's the time they take, which is too long for our liking. However, that's set to change big time now. A research team from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) has developed an electrode material that can charge up to 75% of a lithium-ion battery within 6 minutes.
Led by Professor Lee Jin-woo of Chemical Engineering department, the team from POSTECH developed an electrode material that can be used for lithium-ion batteries by synthesizing hierarchical porous inorganic material. Hierarchical porous structure is a structure that includes at least any two of the micropores (less than 2 nanometers in size), mesopores (between 2 to 50 nanometers) and macropores (50 nanometers or bigger in size). These inorganic material-applied lithium-ion batteries can then be charged up to 75% within 6 minutes.
By adjusting the evaporating condition of solvent and having block copolymer and phase separation take place at the same time, the research team succeeded in synthesizing the porous inorganic material. However, mass production of the material calls for a bigger ask as complicated procedures are required to adjust different pores at the same time.
“Although hierarchical porous inorganic materials had many strengths as energy electrode materials, they were materials that could not truly display their skills due to complicated synthesis,” said Professor Lee.
Lithium-ion batteries use titanium niobium oxide (TNO) as the nanoporous anode material for large-scale grid energy storage. The research team increased the penetrating ability of electrolytes within the electrodes so that lithium ions can be sent easier. This widens the surface area for oxidation and reduction process, ultimately increasing the charging speed. Besides TNO, this technology can also be applied to various inorganic materials such as tungsten or titanium oxides.
The electrode material is effective on secondary batteries as they have a wider surface area and is excellent for sending substances. But Professor Lee is not content there and will be working on to make this material work on various other energy electrode materials.
“Through additional research, we are going to look for ways so that these materials can also improve the performance of various energy electrode materials and not just lithium-ion secondary batteries,” he said.
This is definitely a marvellous technological development that can change the world for the better. But, will the industry-level production of the material be ever possible? only time will tell.