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Nano ‘sandwich’ makes better smartphone battery

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

Gurpreet Singh, assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering, and his research team are improving rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The team has focused on the lithium cycling of molybdenum disulfide, or MoS2, sheets, which Singh describes as a "sandwich" of one molybdenum atom between two sulfur atoms.

In the latest research, the team has found that silicon carbonitride-wrapped molybdenum disulfide sheets show improved stability as a battery electrode with little capacity fading.

In their research, Singh’s team observed that molybdenum disulfide sheets store more than twice as much lithium — or charge — than bulk molybdenum disulfide reported in previous studies. The researchers also found that the high lithium capacity of these sheets does not last long and drops after five charging cycles.

Molybdenum disulfide sheets — which are "sandwiches" of one molybdenum atom between two sulfur atoms — may improve rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, according to the latest research from Gurpreet Singh, assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering. Image courtesy of Kansas State University.


"This kind of behavior is similar to a lithium-sulfur type of battery, which uses sulfur as one of its electrodes," Singh said. "Sulfur is notoriously famous for forming intermediate polysulfides that dissolve in the organic electrolyte of the battery, which leads to capacity fading. We believe that the capacity drop observed in molybdenum disulfide sheets is also due to loss of sulfur into the electrolyte."

To reduce the dissolution of sulfur-based products into the electrolyte, the researchers wrapped the molybdenum disulfide sheets with a few layers of a ceramic called silicon carbonitride, or SiCN. The ceramic is a high-temperature, glassy material prepared by heating liquid silicon-based polymers and has much higher chemical resistance toward the liquid electrolyte, Singh said.

"The silicon carbonitride-wrapped molybdenum disulfide sheets show stable cycling of lithium-ions irrespective of whether the battery electrode is on copper foil-traditional method or as a self-supporting flexible paper as in bendable batteries," Singh said.

After the reactions, the research team also dissembled and observed the cells under the electron microscope, which provided evidence that the silicon carbonitride protected against mechanical and chemical degradation with liquid organic electrolyte.

Singh and his team now want to better understand how the molybdenum disulfide cells might behave in an everyday electronic device — such as a cellphone — that is recharged hundreds of times. The researchers will continue to test the molybdenum disulfide cells during recharging cycles to have more data to analyze and to better understand how to improve rechargeable batteries.

The findings appear in Nature’s Scientific Reports in the article "Polymer-Derived Ceramic Functionalized MoS2 Composite Paper as a Stable Lithium-Ion Battery Electrode.


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