Breakthrough in Battery Electrodes and Fuel Cell Catalysts?
For catalysts in fuel cells and electrodes in batteries, engineers would like to manufacture metal films that are porous, to make more surface area available for chemical reactions, and highly conductive, to carry off the electricity. The latter has been a frustrating challenge.This is another example of the "dull revolutions" taking place in research labs around the world every day. It is the breakthroughs in materials, catalysts, electrodes, solvents, and basic processes, which will build the bridges to a more prosperous, clean, and abundant future.
But Cornell chemists have now developed a way to make porous metal films with up to 1,000 times the electrical conductivity offered by previous methods. Their technique also opens the door to creating a wide variety of metal nanostructures for engineering and biomedical applications, the researchers said.
The results of several years of experimentation are described March 18 online edition of the journal Nature Materials.
"We have reached unprecedented levels of control on composition, nanostructure and functionality -- for example, conductivity -- of the resulting materials, all with a simple 'one-pot' mix-and-heat approach," said senior author Ulrich Wiesner, the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Engineering.
...The researchers report a wide range of experiments showing that their process can be used to make "a library of materials with a high degree of control over composition and structure." They have built structures of almost every metal in the periodic table, and with additional chemistry can "tune" the dimensions of the pores in a range from 10 to 500 nanometers. They have also made metal-filled silica nanoparticles small enough to be ingested and secreted by humans, with possible biomedical applications. _RDMag
The biggest threat to such a transition to a cleaner, more abundant future, is the threat from well intentioned political and faux environmental movements, which have pure feelings but feeble minds.