New batteries are available in space: silicon is used to charge faster and lighter.

Scientists in the United States have developed a lighter, faster-charging battery that can power spacesuits and even Mars probes and can be installed on satellites, physicists reported on Aug. 31. The study, funded by NASA, was published recently in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Applied Materials and Interfaces.

New batteries are available in space: silicon is used to charge faster and lighter.

“Most satellites mainly get energy from the sun, but they also have to be able to store energy when they are in the shadow of the Earth, so the batteries on the satellites are as light as possible, and the heavier the satellite, the higher the mission cost,” said Ramakrina Podira, a scientist at Clemson University and one of the researchers. “

The Podila team developed the latest batteries using silicon. Silicon can wrap more charge, which means more energy can be stored in lighter batteries. Although scientists have long attached great importance to silicon’s power storage capacity, silicon breaks down into smaller pieces when it discharges. For this reason, Podila et al. use tiny silicon “nano” particles instead, which improve stability and provide longer cycle life.

The researchers first made a layer-by-layer structure from a carbon nanotube material called Buckypaper, and then clamped the silicon nanoparticles in the middle — creating a new type of battery like a sandwich.

With this internal structure, Podilla says, even if the silicon particles break, they are “still in the sandwich.”

“Independent carbon nanotubes allow silicon nanoparticles to electrically connect to each other,” the researchers said. These nanotubes form a quasi-three-dimensional structure that clusters silicon nanoparticles even after 500 cycles, reducing the resistance caused by the rupture of nanoparticles. “

Batteries made from silicon and other nanomaterials not only increase capacity, but also charge the battery with higher currents, reducing charging time. Because the new batteries use nanotubes as a buffer mechanism, they charge up to four times faster than they currently do. In addition, the new battery is “light” and charges faster and is much more efficient, which is even better for astronauts in battery-powered spacesuits.