Scientists at the University of Southern California report using porous silicon nanoparticles in place of the traditional graphite anodes has yielded superior battery performance, holding three times as much energy as graphite-based designs and recharging within 10 minutes.
"It opens the door for the design of the next generation lithium-ion batteries," engineering Professor Chongwu Zhou said.
The new batteries, which have applications from cell phones to hybrid cars, could be commercially available within two to three years, a university release said Tuesday.
Previous silicon anode designs using tiny plates of the material quickly broke down from repeated swelling and shrinking during charging/discharging cycles, the researchers said.
In the USC design, porous silicon nanowires less than 100 nanometers in diameter and just a few microns long are used, and the tiny pores on the nanowires allow the silicon to expand and contract without breaking.
The also increasing the surface area, allowing lithium ions to move in and out of the battery more quickly, improving performance, the researchers said.