In Stores Soon: Graphene-Enhanced Li-ion Batteries That Charge In Minutes

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Here’s a new solution for the impatient gadget geek: graphene-enhanced batteries that can charge your cell phone and power tools in minutes, not hours.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is working with a private firm to develop and commercialize lithium-ion battery electrodes using “Vor-x,” a proprietary graphene material invented at Princeton University.

Adding small amounts of high-quality graphene to a Li-ion battery can improve its power and cycling stability without sacrificing high storage capacity, according to Vorbeck Materials, which produces the graphene. Typically, you have to choose between high capacity and quick charging ability.

Vorbeck last year became the first company to commercialize a graphene product, offering graphene-based conductive ink for use in printed electronics. The firm spun out of graphene research conducted in Princeton’s Ceramic Materials Laboratory, run by Ilhan Askay, who co-invented Vor-x.

Materials scientists are tinkering with several ways to improve the storage capacity, charging/discharging speed, and safety of Li-ion batteries, but graphene battery electrodes is a new step.

Li-ion batteries work by transferring lithium ions between a cathode and an anode using a liquid electrolyte. Improved cathodes can allow more ions to transfer, which can increase the battery’s storage capabilities.

Graphene, made of carbon sheets one atom thick, is prized for its conductive properties and has potential for semiconductors or electronic displays. Now it could help power those electronics, too.