Australian engineers are working on new materials to help move beyond lithium-ion batteries.

The rapid development of renewable energy resources means the world needs large-scale, cost-efficient and high-energy-density storage systems.

Lithium ion batteries (LIBs) have many advantages, but there are more abundant metallic elements available such as sodium, potassium, zinc and aluminium. These elements have similar chemistries to lithium and being used in new developments such as sodium-ion batteries (SIBs), potassium-ion batteries (PIBs), zinc-ion batteries (ZIBs), and aluminium-ion batteries (AIBs).

However, all these developments have been held back by the lack of suitable electrode materials.

Now, experts at the University of Technology Sydneyhave come up with a strategy using interface strain engineering in a 2D graphene nanomaterial to produce a new type of electrode. 

Strain engineering is the process of tuning a material’s properties by altering its mechanical or structural attributes.

The research demonstrates a new type of zero-strain cathodes for reversible intercalation, or insertion.

They were made through interface strain engineering of a 2D multilayered VOPO4-graphene heterostructure.

The researchers say their work is a promising strategy to utilise strain engineering of 2D materials for advanced energy storage applications.

“The strategy of strain engineering could be extended to many other nanomaterials for rational design of electrode materials towards high energy storage applications beyond lithium-ion chemistry,” Professor Wang said.

More information is accessible here.