In a breakthrough development, a team of researchers at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) have developed “graphene ball,” a unique battery material that will allow for a 45 per cent increase in capacity, and five times faster charging speeds than standard lithium-ion batteries.
The breakthrough will open doors to a next generation secondary battery market, particularly related to mobile devices and electric vehicles. In its research, SAIT collaborated closely with Samsung SDI as well as a team from Seoul National University’s School of Chemical and Biological Engineering.
Lithium-ion batteries were first commercialised in 1991, and were widely targeted for mobile devices and electric vehicle markets. However, standard lithium batteries require almost an hour to fully charge, even with quick charging technology support. There have been various attempts to explore use of new innovative materials in the recent past and among the materials looked at, graphene has widely become the primary source of interest as the representative next generation material.
Theoretically, graphene ball based battery material requires only 12 minutes to fully charge. Additionally, the battery can maintain a highly stable 60-degree Celsius temperature, with stable battery temperatures particularly key for electric vehicles.
In its research, SAIT sought for an approach to apply graphene, a material with high strength and conductivity to batteries, and discovered a mechanism to mass synthesise graphene into a 3D form like popcorn using affordable silica (SiO2). This “graphene ball” was utilised for both the anode protective layer and cathode materials in lithium-ion batteries. This ensured an increase of charging capacity, decrease of charging time as well as stable temperatures.
“Our research enables mass synthesis of multifunctional composite material graphene at an affordable price. At the same time, we were able to considerably enhance the capabilities of lithium-ion batteries in an environment where the markets for mobile devices and electric vehicles is growing rapidly. Our commitment is to continuously explore and develop secondary battery technology in light of these trends,” said researcher Son In-hyuk, who led the project on behalf of SAIT.
SAIT has also filed two applications for the “graphene ball” technology patent in the US and Korea.