Carbon nanotubes have been in the focus of many scientists and universities studying battery technologies recently. Now, a group of Rice University researchers found out the novel properties of carbon nanotubes surrounded by metal-oxide arrays for use in lithium ion batteries.
The team was led by Pulickel Ajayan, who published a paper describing a proof-of-concept in which carbon nanotubes, surrounded by manganese oxide, act like coaxial conducting lines used in cables (your TV cable may be one example – if it’s old-style, analogic TV).
“We’ve put in two materials – the nanotube, which is highly electrically conducting and can also absorb lithium, and the manganese oxide, which has very high capacity but poor electrical conductivity,” said Arava Leela Mohana Reddy, a Rice postdoc researcher. “But when you combine them, you get something interesting”.
The two substances (carbon nanotubes and manganese oxide) are grown chemically. This technology enables the manufacturers to dispense of the bindings between the materials making up the current batteries, that also lower their conductivity.
This research could be the base of making future Litium-Ion batteries more attractive and cheaper for the end-user, and for the automobile manufacturer. Currently, only battery performance and price are holding electric cars behind gasoline-powered ones. It remains to be seen if this technology, though funded by DARPA, will reach the civilian public market in the next few years. That might just happen, since this information got out freely throughout the Internet. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have known of its existence. I guess….