A nanowire battery uses nanowires to increase the surface area of one or both of its electrodes. Two designs, variations of the lithium-ion battery have been announced, although neither is commercially available. Both replace the traditional graphite anode.
One design uses a stainless steel anode covered in silicon nanowires. Silicon stores ten times more lithium than graphite, offering increased energy density. The large surface area increases the anode's power density, allowing for fast charging and high current delivery. The anode was invented at Stanford University in 2007.
Silicon anodes had been dismissed because they tended to crack and become unusable, because it swelled by 400% intercalating lithium during charging.
In September 2010, researchers demonstrated 250 charge cycles maintaining above 80 percent of initial storage capacity.
A related company, Amprius, shipped a related device with silicon and other materials in 2013.
An anode using germanium nanowire was claimed to have the ability to increase the capacity and lifetimes of lithium-ion batteries. Like silicon, germanium expands during charging and disintegrates after a small number of cycles.
The anodes were claimed to retain capacities of 900 mAh/g after 1100 cycles, even at discharge rates of 20–100C. This performance was attributed to a restructuring of the nanowires that occurs within the first 100 cycles to form a mechanically robust, continuously porous network. Once formed, the restructured anode loses only 0.01% of capacity per cycle thereafter.
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