Charles Hatchett Award: Winners revolutionise rechargeable batteries

Charles Hatchett Award winners 2019 inc Gianntonnio Cibin

The University of Cambridge’s research team Diamond Light Source worked with the US government department, Advanced Photon Source and subsequently received the highly prestigious Charles Hatchett Award.

Diamond Light Source and Advanced Photon Source received the award for developing method of increasing the capacity of Li-ion batteries while also reducing the charging time.

The collaborative research group studied the new material, niobium tungsten oxide, in order to implement it in extending the storage capacity of rechargeable batteries. From electric cars to mobiles, these new batteries are intended to be used in a range of products in order to fulfil the growing demand on rechargeable batteries.

Giannantonio Cibin at Diamond explains; “We need to develop new electrode materials for batteries which will improve both charge/discharge rates and increase storage capacities. This is really important for growing markets such as electric vehicles, portable appliances and large-scale energy storage. This research highlights why two complex niobium-tungsten oxides show higher energy and power densities than those in battery materials currently available.”

Niobium tungsten oxide surprised researchers as it stores an unexpectedly large quantity of energy. The team tested the chemical changes that effect this new material using X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy, meaning an x-ray strikes an atom which then excites a core electron, either resulting in it being promoted to an unoccupied level or ejected from the atom. Both results create a core hole. If the electron is ejected from the atom, it causes an excited ion as well as a photoelectron.

CEO of Diamond, Professor Andrew Harrison added; “As a leading-edge facility for scientific research supporting a wide range of users from both academia and industry, we are extremely proud of this potentially world changing science that has been undertaken on our B18 Beamline into new fast charging and high-power battery materials.  We hope their award-winning research will unlock new benefits to our society and economy and further studies are eagerly expected.”

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