Organic material paves the way for energy storage devices

A team of scientists have developed an innovative organic material that will potentially advance the next generation of energy storage appliances.

The team from Skoltech have a proposed a novel alternative for energy storage devices, manufacturing an innovative battery made from organic material that is based on the principle of a modular design, possibly enhancing the future blueprints of energy storage.

As the requirement for energy storage devices continues to rise exponentially year after year, the need for these technologies to be environmentally friendly becomes more and more pertinent, with it being vital for the next generation of batteries to be sustainable, easily disposable, economical, and comprised of abundant elements.

A promising contender for the next iteration of energy storage is organic batteries; however, their potential has not been comprehensively analysed until now. Their organic cathode materials allow for considerable energy mass per unit, durability, fast charging times and can be mass-produced efficiently.

The team designed a simple redox-active polyimide to test their effectiveness, synthesised by heating together aromatic dianhydride and meta-phenylenediamine, both of which are readily abundant. The novel organic material displayed excellent characteristic for numerous energy storage devices, including sodium, lithium, and potassium-based batteries. The organic material exhibited high redox potentials, high specific capacities up to 140 mAh/g, desirable cycling stability of around 1000 cycles, and fast charge times of under one minute.

When comparing the organic material to its previously known isomer, its power and energy outputs were shown to be far superior, with the researchers indicating that the new polyimide is responsible for this. Its larger surface area and smaller particles allow it to diffuse the charge carriers more efficiently, with the redox potential also increased due to the layout of the polymers imide units, which benefit the binding of metal ions.

Roman Kapaev, one of the students who designed the organic material, said: “What we propose is a new molecular design principle for battery polyimides, which is using aromatic molecules with amino groups in meta positions as building blocks. For a long time, scientists have paid little attention to this structural motif and used para-phenylenediamine or similar structures instead. Our results are a good hint for understanding how the battery polyimides should be designed on a molecular level, and it might lead to cathode materials with even better characteristics”.

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