The Graphene Carbon LatticeEnlarge Photo
Graphene is described as a "wonder material" within the scientific community, winning the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics.
It's incredibly light, incredibly strong and very simple. Made up from sheets of carbon only a single atom thick, it's the material's potential use in batteries that has us excited.
Graphene foam, says arstechnica, is the latest technology to be suggested for battery technology.
To create it, graphene is "grown" on the surface of a metal foam, a three-dimensional mesh of metal filaments. When the metal is processed away, you're left with graphene foam. The resulting material is both flexible--just like regular graphene--light, and strong.
It also has great electrical conductivity characteristics, as well as a large surface area for charge carriers to exhange electrons--both desirable features for a battery electrode.
And used in batteries, graphene foam could combine the desirable characteristics of both regular batteries, and faster charging and discharging found in capacitors--a complete discharge in as little as 20 seconds, for example.
Similarly, tests using a lithium-iron phosphate and graphene foam cathode resulted in reliable full charging in under 15 minutes--despite similar energy density to current lithium-ion batteries.
As with many other battery development technologies, it's not yet up to a standard where it could be used full-scale in electric cars. Additionally, graphene foam might be simple in composition, but it's time-consuming and expensive to produce.
Ultimately, the viability of graphene foam batteries relies on those issues being cured. Until they are, it's unlikely to be the future of battery technology.