New batteries will help explore Mars

Researchers at Clemson University in the United States have unveiled a new method for making batteries. They become lighter and charge faster, so they can be used to charge spacesuits or even a rover.

The university team decided to create silicon-based batteries that can hold more charge. They also came up with a structure in which energy is stored in lighter cells. Researchers have long tried to come up with a composition in which, after charging and discharging, the material does not disintegrate into smaller pieces.

The solution the team has come up with is the use of tiny nano-sized silicon particles that increase stability and provide longer battery life. Instead of several layers of silicon, the battery uses layers of a carbon nanotube called Buckypaper, sandwiched between silicon nanoparticles.

With such a device, the silicon particles disintegrate, but do not become less effective, the researchers note.

“Most satellites get their energy from the sun. But satellites must store energy when they are in the shadows. We made the batteries light and capacious, so now this task has become easier”.

Clemson University Press Release

Using batteries made of silicon and other nanomaterials not only increases capacity but also allows them to be charged faster. Fast charging is possible because the new batteries use nanotubes as a buffer mechanism – this makes charging four times faster.

The researchers note that lightweight batteries that charge faster and are significantly more efficient can be used not only in devices of the future but also in space exploration – spacesuits and rovers that will go to Mars.