Thursday, 12 March 2015

Silk can be new 'green' material for gen-next batteries

A 'green' material derived from natural silk can boost the performance of lithium-ion batteries used in portable gadgets and electric cars, scientists say.

Carbon is a key component in commercial lithium-ion energy storage devices including batteries and supercapacitors.

Most commonly, graphite fills that role, but it has a limited energy capacity, researchers said.

To improve the energy storage, manufacturers are looking for an alternative material to replace graphite.

Chuanbao Cao and colleagues at the Beijing Institute of Technology wanted to see if they could develop such a material using a sustainable source.

The researchers found a way to process natural silk to create carbon-based nanosheets that could potentially be used in energy storage devices.

Their material stores five times more lithium than graphite can - a capacity that is critical to improving battery performance.

It also worked for over 10,000 cycles with only a 9 per cent loss in stability.

The researchers successfully incorporated their material in prototype batteries and supercapacitors in a one-step method that could easily be scaled up.

The study is published in the journal ACS Nano.