Since the beginning of time researchers and scientists have worked to find methods of making energy storage devices more efficient. This has manifested in a number of ways, including trying to increase the storage capacity of energy storage devices, a reduction in the size of the devices, developing energy storage devices that can rapidly charge, and even manufacturing hybrid devices that take the best properties of multiple devices into a single device–one example being hybrid battery-ultracapacitor modules.
The demand for higher efficiency and smaller sizes as well as speedier charging has been evident in recent times due to social changes which have meant that we’re more dependent on technology in our lives. Thus, the developers continuously strive to improve their devices and offer more power, while preserving or decreasing the size. The traditional manufacturing processes restrict the size and efficiency of devices they can create these devices using bulk materials. This is why numerous academic researchers and industrial manufacturing companies are turning to the use of nanomaterials in order to overcome these issues. Nanotechnology’s impact on devices in the past several years was so significant that we’re now beginning to see energy storage devices that are commercially available that are available, which utilize nanomaterials, many of which are used included in consumer goods.
What is the reason? Nanotechnology has an impact on Energy Storage Devices
Nanomaterials have characteristics that make them suitable for a range different energy storage systems. Because nanomaterials may have distinct properties the developers are able to explore endless possibilities for developing energy storage devices as well as other areas of application.
One of the major advantages of batteries for energy storage is superior electrical conductivity and charge carrier mobility in certain nanomaterials that allow electrons to move and be stored with greater efficiency. It can also be improved in certain nanomaterials due to quantum effects that can be observed in the nanomeasuring. Certain nanomaterials have quantum wells, also known as energy potential wells that electrons are able to traverse between the wells if they are sufficiently close. This means that, in certain nanomaterials, electrons are able to travel through the material, without being blocked from any one of the bonds which make up the device. This implies that they won’t lose energy.
Nanomaterials are also extremely tiny and thin, which means that they are able to build the smaller devices that society desires without compromising the performance that the gadget. Nanomaterials also have a vast and active surface when compared to bulk materials. These are able to be used to store charge or ions, depending upon the device that stores them.
Certain other nanomaterials are extremely insulating and can endure extreme heat, much more than the heat produced by electronic devices with high power. In an age of electronic devices that constantly generate more heat with every technology advancement comes along and these insulating nanomaterials don’t just help safeguard the electrical properties of the device, but they are often able to disperse heat inside the device, which means that there is less chance that hot spots or localized damage can occur which can extend the life that the gadget.
Nanomaterials of various types have affected the devices for energy storage, and it is not unusual to utilize multiple nanomaterials to enhance the performance of the device or create synergistic effects between nanomaterials, which contribute to an improved device. Thus, developers can employ more than one nanomaterial combination to enhance the advantages. For instance, stacking electrically insulation (dielectric) nanomaterials over highly conductive nanomaterials in order to decrease the loss of energy to the surrounding and shielding electron charge carriers and, in certain instances, assist in manipulating the direction of electrons.
Where Nanotechnology had an impact
Nanomaterials are being utilized in various energy storage technology. Of these, batteries are most popular and commercial batteries are currently being developed that incorporate nanomaterials. Because Li-ion batteries represent the largest market for manufacturers, it is from this that the biggest impact has been achieved however, they have also been employed to create the commercial lithium sulfur (Li-S) battery. Although the primary usage of nanomaterials in batteries is in their electrodes, these nanomaterials can also be employed in gel and solid forms to form the electrolyte in certain batteries.
In addition to batteries, nanomaterials are also being utilized to make the next generation of supercapacitors. Additionally, some modules are being developed that combine both supercapacitors and batteries in order to test and make use of the benefits of both (while simultaneously trying to eliminate the problems related to both).
These systems for energy storage are employed in a wide range of technology applications, and the application of energy storage devices that are inspired by nanotechnology could be a viable option for smaller-scale (handheld) devices as in larger systems for energy storage, like electric vehicles. Nanomaterials have been hailed as among the most promising methods of improving the rather inadequate capacity for charging and energy storage of a lot of batteries that are currently in use in electric vehicles.
While nanotechnology-inspired energy storage devices have capabilities in larger systems, they are currently more prevalent in portable and handheld devices. One example is the smartphone, which is that is used in the Internet of Nano Things (IoNT). The IoNT implies that smaller sensors are required, and nanotechnology-based batteries provide an option to power such devices. They have a variety of applications, ranging from sensors for medical use to monitoring environmental conditions.
Another area in which the tiny size of these batteries has proven valuable is in the ever-changing field of wearable and flexible electronic devices. Apart from standalone devices there are numerous of e-textiles developing that utilize the energy storage (and also energy harvesting devices)–that are powering the device and they are feasible because of the small size and effectiveness of the nanomaterials utilized in these devices.
Some nanomaterials have characteristics that are well-suited to improve the efficiency, size, and charging capability of many batteries for energy. As the need for smaller and more efficient devices continues to grow, nanomaterials will likely to play a more significant role of these products than they currently. We’re already seeing commercial devices appearing for a variety of consumer handhelds and markets are likely to expand in the coming years as more manufacturers of end-user products are able to adopt these technology.