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Charging Batteries Within Seconds Thanks to New Material MXene

S u m m a r y :
Charge your phone within seconds, thanks to a new battery electrode design, invented by a team of researchers from Drexel University’s College of Engineering. Their paper has recently been published in the journal Nature Energy.

How Batteries Work

Imagine charging your phone to full capacity in mere seconds—this would be absolutely awesome, right?! Just what we’d dream of, given that today’s world is thoroughly tech-oriented. Besides, instant gratification has become a thing in our contemporary societies, and so charging phones at such a fast rate is indeed highly desirable. With the new battery electrode design, this might soon become reality.

Let us first have a look as to how batteries work. Batteries consist of a components known as electrode connected to an electrical conductor called the electrolyte. When the system is connected to an electrical circuit, the electrolyte reacts chemically with the materials in the electrodes, a process whereby chemical energy is turned into electrical energy.

What Makes the New Battery Different

The new study documents the creation of a new electrode for the battery. The team developed it using a two-dimensional material called MXene which is an exceptionally good conductor of electricity. Batteries made of this can function at a much greater speed comparable to that of supercapacitors (electrical double-layer capacitors). Otherwise, the scientific world considers chemical charge storage in batteries and pseudocapacitors to be slower than physical storage used in supercapacitors, explains lead author Yury Gogotsi. His paper, thus, challenges this popular belief.

Energy is stored through the electrodes during charging. This energy is then used to power devices like mobile phones. Therefore, having an electrode that can be quickly charged, and at the same time made to store more energy would be ideal.

The findings show that charging MXene electrodes can happen in tens of milliseconds because the material is highly conductive. As Gogotsi explains, “ultrafast energy devices that can be charged and discharged within seconds” can be made possible with MXene while they are also able to store greater amount of energy than your usual supercapacitors.

Storing More Energy & Charging Faster

The new electrode is able to save more energy because it has many more ports where the electrical charge can be stored—this would mean that the battery would have more “juice”.

Study investigators Patrice Simon and Zifeng Lin have developed a hydrogel electrode that can carry more such ports. Morever, their colleagues included several small openings into the electrode design so that the MXene would be even more accessible to charged particles. In common batteries, on the other hand, these charged particles do not have easy access to storage ports, thus accounting for a slower process; furthermore, fewer of these particles make it to their destination at high speed. The new design, thus, does away with these limitations, as the MXene allows for a rapid flow of electrical current, with the particles also having more ports to go to.

“If we start using low-dimensional and electronically conducting materials as battery electrodes, we can make batteries working much, much faster than today,” says Gogotsi. “Eventually, appreciation of this fact will lead us to car, laptop and cell-phone batteries capable of charging at much higher rates—seconds or minutes rather than hours.”


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