Archive for June 10th, 2011

Engineering at nanoscale …

Friday, June 10th, 2011 by Roberto Saracco

Since the birth of the Homo Habilis we have been creating new things by “chopping out” pieces to create components to be stuck together in the building phase. Nature does not work like that. It builds up molecule after molecules and that provides ways to create most efficient structures.

This is now within our technical capabilities and we are seeing the benefit every day.

Schematics of the Manganese oxide grid

Scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory together with visiting scientists from the Wuhan University have been able to create a layer of manganese oxide crystals of very specific forms that is particularly effective in transporting sodium ions. This increases the yield of batteries and can provide the tools for a new approach to energy accumulation and distribution.

The prototype yields 128 milliamp-hour per gram of electrode material, much better than any existing batteries.

The grid of manganese oxide are built assembling two different kinds of crystals created at different temperatures, one in the shape of pyramids, the others in the shape of a octahedron. Mixing together the two types creates tiny channels across which the sodium ion can easily flow.

What is most interesting to me is the ability that we have reached in controlling single molecules in building complex structures. This is what is really going to change the rules of the game.