New nanomaterial for energy storage

It has  been discovered a new material in the form of sheets of atomic thickness. It’s about the antimonene. It has a structure similar to that of graphene, but instead of carbon atoms it is composed of antimony atoms. Since the two-dimensional carbon material we know today as graphene was discovered a few decades ago, new and different nanomaterials have been developed with a multitude of potential applications.

Among the most important applications are those in the field of energy generation and storage; given the urgency of our generation to replace the engines that work with hydrocarbons and opt for the use of clean and renewable energies.

Antimonene is a new two-dimensional material of monatomic thickness composed of antimony atoms. Although its existence had been foreseen in theoretical studies, only until now has it been isolated in the laboratory and it has been described in an article published in the magazine Advanced Energy Material. The authors are researchers from the Nanomaterials group of the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM), directed by Felix Zamora, who had the collaboration of the group of Sensors and Biosensors of the UAM led by Mª Encarnación Lorenzo, and the group of experts in electrochemistry directed by Craig Banks at Manchester Metropolitan University (United Kingdom).

Supercapacitors are devices capable of storing large amounts of electrical energy in the form of electrostatic charges and transferring it quickly when necessary. Its operation is based on the separation of electrical charges (positive and negative).

These charges in the form of ions are separated thanks to the coating of the nanostructure of the material used, antimonene, either by anions or by cations, according to the electrode (anode or cathode) of which they are a part. Although the operation of the supercapacitors is not as well known as that of batteries or batteries, their use is increasingly widespread. Among the most popular applications is its use in electric motors of hybrid vehicles, as well as in hospitals and elevators (such as emergency generators in the event of a power failure).

These properties make the new material an excellent candidate for future research in the field of energy storage. And in the not too distant future could be used even in the development of everyday devices, such as electric vehicle engines or long-life batteries of small electronic devices.

In addition, and given the feasibility of using this material as a supercapacitor, even more promising applications are being studied, such as its use in sodium batteries, replacing existing lithium batteries, given the shortage of this material compared to the enormous quantities of sodium present in nature.

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