Sep 4, 2012Science and Technology
Recycling silicon for batteries

Electronic waste is slowly becoming a large-scale problem for our technologically advanced society. Rice University researchers have developed a new way of recycling silicon into flexible components for lithium-ion batteries. Silicon, despite its ubiquitous usage in modern electronics, is notoriously difficult to recycle. Silicon also happens to be a more effective cathode that the currently prevalent carbon, but is not commonly used because it is inflexible and breaks down quickly. Rice researchers Arava Leela Mohana Reddy solved both of these problems. He realized that the silicon needed to be more like nanowires, so he "painted" patters on top of the used silicon, and etched away all the silicon in between. All that was needed was some waste silicon, and all that remains is a small, flexible piece of silicon perfect for use in a lithium-ion battery.

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