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Organic Nanomaterials and Metal Particles Could Mean Better Batteries

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BUSAN, South Korea, Feb. 28, 2020 — Researchers from the National Korea Maritime and Ocean University have developed a method for adding metals to organic materials that they claim is simple, safe, and cost-effective. The method will allow the production of sodium-ion batteries, an improved alternative to lithium-ion batteries.

The research team’s method for the production of metal-doped carbon-based (MADOC-carbon) involves adding a metallic ingredient to an organic solvent (a liquid containing the carbon-based material) and then introducing a pair of metal wires to the mixture and applying a direct current, producing plasma discharge.

The energy transmitted from the plasma discharge to the molecules in the mixture causes them to break apart into radicals, which quickly recombine to form the desired composite material, where the metal is mixed with the carbon.

Carbon-containing molecules can be engineered into a variety of structures, the byproduct of which includes high mechanical strength, thermal and electrical conductivity, and chemical stability. Several characteristics of carbon-based materials can be tuned, and new functionalities unlocked through metal doping, allowing researchers obtain better results out of the material.

MADOC-carbon composites have gained interest from research groups for their potential application to sodium-ion batteries, lithium-ion batteries, and ferrofluids. Sodium-ion batteries, which researchers hope can be an effective replacement for lithium-ion batteries, can only be possible with safe and cost-effective carbon composites. Because the proposed method can be carried out at room temperature, the cost of producing ultrafine metal particles can be reduced. The research team is hoping this technique will facilitate the production of a wide variety of materials and potentially unlock more functionalities and applications.

Lead researcher Jun Kang believes that a variety of metallic and organic ingredients can be used in his team’s method, allowing for the production of different composites. If the idea is sustainable, MADOC-carbon composites may have several useful applications.

“Doping metal atoms into a carbon support through plasma discharges enables metal atoms to stably maintain high performance without undergoing degradation for a prolonged period of time,” Kang said. “Another key advantage of this method is that it is safer than currently available procedures, which use dangerous gaseous materials. This procedure can be used to consistently obtain very small metallic particles.”

Due to the structural characteristics attained through Kang’s method, he believes it is possible to synthesize composites doped with ultrafine metal atoms.

Published: February 2020
Glossary
nano
An SI prefix meaning one billionth (10-9). Nano can also be used to indicate the study of atoms, molecules and other structures and particles on the nanometer scale. Nano-optics (also referred to as nanophotonics), for example, is the study of how light and light-matter interactions behave on the nanometer scale. See nanophotonics.
Research & TechnologyAsia-PacificSouth Korealithium-ionLithium-ion batteriesferrofluidsheavy metal atomsatomsMaterialsnano

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