Photo battery shines light on safer power

July 10, 2015 // By Paul Buckley
Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, India have devised a way of using light - solar or artificial - to drive battery power safely.

Under normal indoor lighting, the battery discharged electric current and recharged within 30 seconds without an external power source. The photo battery worked for more than 100 cycles and could power a light-emitting diode.

The 'photo battery', which is reported in the American Chemical Society's The Journal of Physical Chemistry C, uses light and titanium nitride for the anode.

Metal-ion batteries such as those based on lithium ions run most of today's gadgets but take a long time to charge. The batteries can also overheat and catch fire if they are defective or damaged. These problems are often related to the unstable material used for the anode, the negative side of the battery. Musthafa Ottakam Thotiyl and colleagues from IISER have investigated ways of addressing these flaws with a novel solution.

The researchers have developed a battery with a titanium nitride photoanode that is stable and claimed to be far safer than conventional options.

Although not yet strong enough to run commercially available devices, the researchers claim the battery design marks a first step toward a more sustainable and safer battery technology.

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