Scientists think a new lithium ion battery anode made from silicon, carbon, and corn starch could quadruple battery capacity. Combining silicon, carbon, and starch and heating it makes an enmeshed structure of coated particles. Could a simple materials change make electric car batteries able to four times more energy? Scientists in South Korea think so. In a new paper in the American Chemical Society’s Nano Letters , a research team details using silicon and repurposed corn starch to make better anodes for lithium ion batteries. This team is based primarily in the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), where they’ve experimented with microemulsifying silicon, carbon, and corn starch into a new microstructured composite material for use as a battery anode. This is done by mixing silicon nanoparticles and corn starch with propylene gas and heating it all to combine. Using biowaste corn starch is already pretty popular, with products like biodegradeable “corn plastic” cutlery, packaging, and the infamous nontoxic packing peanut. The same qualities that make corn starch attractive in these applications apply to the silicon anode project. Existing lithium-ion batteries use carbon anodes, and scientists know silicon would work better in many ways but have struggled to […]

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