Nanowire Creates World's Tiniest Battery

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A filament thinner than a human hair but with twice the charging capacity of today's lithium-ion batteries has been created by scientists at Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, NM. Even though the battery is not yet charging drum-beating bunnies, it could lead to smaller, cheaper and more charging devices for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, laptops and cell phones.

The filament-battery is made from tin oxide anode and lithium cobalt oxide cathode suspended in an ionic liquid electrolyte.

Above is an image of the battery in two states. The top image is the battery in a noncharged state. The bottom image shows it charged. Look how much longer it is and how it has that crazy twist in the middle. That's because ions traveling along the tin oxide nanowire cause it to stretch out in length and also bend and wiggle, producing a so-called "Medusa front."

"These observations prove that nanowires can sustain large stress induced by lithiation without breaking, indicating that nanowires are very good candidates for battery electrodes," the team's leader Jianyu Huang said in a press release.

Huang also said that the observations explain how these kinds of flaws occurs, "how they evolve during charging and offer guidance in how to mitigate them," — of which could help developers build better batteries that have fewer defects that lead to short circuits and therefore longer battery life.

Courtesy DOE Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies

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