New research from the University of Washington is opening another avenue in the quest for better batteries and fuel cells. But this research is not a breakthrough in efficiency or longevity, rather a tool to more closely analyze how batteries work.
While we’ve come a long way from the voltaic pile of the 1800s, there is still much work to be done in the field of energy storage to meet modern day needs. In a society that is looking for ways to power electric vehicles and implement large scale grid energy storage for renewables, batteries and fuel cells have never been more important.
A research team from the University of Washington – including ECS members Stuart B. Adler and Timothy C. Geary – believes that these improvements will likely have to happen at the nanoscale. But in order to improve batteries and fuel cells at that microscopic level, we must first understand and see how they function.[MORE: Read the full journal article.]
The newly developed probe offers a window for researchers to understand how batteries and fuel cells really work.
This from the University of Washington via Futurity:
In the case of the new electrochemical probe, the cantilever is heated with an electrical current, causing fluctuations in temperature and localized stress in the material beneath the probe. As a result, atoms and ions within the material move around, causing it to expand and contract. This expansion and contraction causes the cantilever to vibrate, which can be measured accurately using a laser beam shining on the top of the cantilever.
The researchers believe that the new tool is a promising avenue for scientists to study electrochemical material properties of batteries and fuel cells at the nanoscale. By studying these properties locally, it could potentially make it easier for researchers to develop new materials with much higher performance.