The battery, called the heart of electronic products, is becoming further deeply imbedded in the lives of the modern human as usage of portable electronic devices increases. In addition, the battery is expanding as the key power source in not only IT devices but in the general industry, including cars and ships. In the near future, there will come an age where the battery will be the center of all inorganic objects.
The “lithium ion battery”, revolutionizing the development of electronic products
The principle behind the lithium ion battery was suggested in the 1960s, but due to the high reactivity of lithium and difficulty in solving stability issues was never made for practical use until in 1991, when Sony was successful in development of the product.
The lithium ion battery is typically composed of cathodes made up of oxidized transition elements (including lithium), anodes made of carbon materials (graphite most commonly used for commercial purposes) and electrolytes. For the cathode, lithium cobalt oxide, lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4), lithium manganese oxide, spinel etc are used, with titanium disulfide also being used early on.
[Figure 1. Source: Agit-Postech-TechReview]
Due to the limits of the cathode or anode materials, the development of lithium battery was focused on improving capacity based on the optimization of battery structure. However, the advancement in capacity came to a halt after approximately doubling the original value, limiting the development of large capacity, high-concentration batteries required by the growth in the mobile devices and electric car market.
[Figure 2. Source: Agit-postech-techreview]
At the current status quo where development of next generation technology is a requirement, many research results from the active R&D in developing a large capacity, high durability anode material point to grapheme as the most suitable material.
Development of a hybrid supercapacitor using Graphene
[Figure 3. The new hybrid supercapacitor(left) / Professor Richard Karner and Dr. El-Kady(right)]
According to materials released in 2015, a research team led by Professor Richard Kaner developed a hybrid supercapacitor which has a large energy storage capacity and can be recharged rapidly, being able to function for 10,000 cycles.
In an interview with the research team, El-Kady stated that the “microsupercapacitor developed by this research team is a new device which is a micro power with a capacity far greater than the existing lithium thin-film micro battery that can be recharged.” According to El-Kady, this new device combines laser-processed Graphene with oxidized manganese. Graphene can hold electric charge, has high conductivity and can be recharged rapidly. Oxidized manganese can hold significant electric charges and is cheap and plentiful. These do not need extreme temperatures and do not require highly expensive “dry room” used to produce supercapacitors.
Research was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Lithium ion battery material capable of being recharged extremely rapidly, developed using Graphene
[Figure 4. Mimetic diagram of the combined structure of the 3D net-shape Graphene coated with titanium dioxide film, forming a mesopore. (Photo source=KAIST)]
In 2016, a research team led by professors Jung-gu Kang and Yong-hoon Kim of KAIST EEWS graduate school developed a lithium ion battery material capable of rapid recharge and discharge with no loss in capacity after over 10,000 cycles. This technology allows easy manufacturing of a combined structure composed of Graphene formed as in a 3D net-shape and titanium dioxide nanoparticles 6 nanometers in size.
This improved the limited high-output capacity issue of existing carbon-type electrodes. An electrode of high-performance was realized. There is great hope for its possible application in the near future in fields which require high power and long battery life such as electric cars and mobile devices.
Currently, Graphene is the most commonly used material in cathode batteries. The simple way of making this Graphene is separating the graphite when in a liquid. During this procedure, occurrences of impurities and faults on the surface interfere with increasing conductivity. To solve this problem, the research team utilized the chemical vapor disposition method to from Graphene into a 3D net-shape, different from the existing flat shape with minimized faults and superior properties. By coating this with a titanium dioxide nanoparticle film, this combined, mesopore structure was created.
[Figure 6. Source:Agit-postech-techreview]
In the present time, 40 years after the discovery of the lithium ion battery which revolutionized an era, the limits of the lithium ion battery have been reached. In the midst of rapid development of high-performance electronic devices, numerous research and development using Graphene is being conducted throughout the world. Just as life without electricity is unimaginable, it is difficult now to imagine life without batteries. There is high hope that, soon, the battery of dreams that is safe, has a long life span and boasts consistent battery performance no matter the number of use will make its way into our lives.
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