Inspenet, March 15, 2023
Scientists from the Institute of Optics (dependent on the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) in Spain, have developed a new ceramic material with improved electrical properties that could serve as the basis for the future manufacture of batteries without dependence on lithium.
The new development, which has been detailed by its authors in the academic journal Materials & Design, has been achieved thanks to the treatment of oxygen-deficient ceramics with an ultra-fast laser. The electrical conductivity of the synthesized material increases by more than eight orders of magnitude with this laser treatment.
The researchers have succeeded in producing niobium oxide layers with optimized electrical properties by melting and recrystallizing the material in powder form using the heat generated by the ultrafast laser.
“Thanks to the use of the laser we have managed to control the formation of the ceramic material better than if it were formed in a furnace, optimizing the conditions to produce uniform layers of crystals with the ideal orientation to favor the electrical conductivity of the material. All in a few seconds, in air and with little energy consumption, which makes it extremely interesting for applications such as the design of new batteries or detection systems”, explains Javier Solís, a CSIC researcher at the Institute of Optics (IO).
The properties of different crystalline forms of niobium oxide for energy storage devices offer high power densities without compromising the safety and durability of the device, even when it gets hot.
“These oxides can use larger ions than lithium (i.e., sodium and potassium), so they are excellent candidates for the design of energy storage devices beyond the currently employed lithium-ion batteries based on the use of compounds of this metal as electrodes”, says Belén Sotillo, a researcher at the UCM.
The material that has been synthesized could also be used in photocatalysis systems, based on the absorption of visible light, as well as in sensors, thanks to its chemical stability and resistance to corrosion.
Photo : NASA
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