RICHMOND, Virginia 08/10/18
Two Virginia Commonwealth University inventors have developed a material that can help to improve the efficiency of a number of modern products, such as batteries and diabetes test strips.
According to inventor, Ahmed A. Farghaly, the problem with products that rely on these principles is that they are inefficient due to a low surface area, low surface-to-volume ratio and the microstructure of materials used.
“Most chemistry happens at the interface of two materials,” says Farghaly. “Where material A and material B touch is where all the magic happens. But for things like the flow of electricity or fluids you need a material to be continuous, like electrons through wire, or water through a pipe.”
““Imagine a piece of paper, it is continuous, but it’s only 2-dimensional. If we wad it up, it becomes 3-dimensional. If we stack 2 pieces of paper and strategically poke holes through each piece before wadding them up, they become a bicontinuous multi-component material. And this is important because we’ve increased the surface-to-volume ratio – which allows for more contact with our two materials, which then synergistically work together to improve activity.””Ahmed A. Farghaly
The material Farghaly is referring to is originating from a platinum-silver alloy. Historically, these two metals haven’t been known to play well together. And it’s been previously impossible to electrochemically produce them simultaneously with a composition ratio that enables the formation of 3D bicontinuous nanoporous films.
VCU Licensing Associate, Brent Fagg, says, “This is the same trick cells in your body use to increase energy production. And by having nanopores, you improve the efficiency of the reacting material by improving accessibility and increasing the surface-to-volume ratio.”
The nanopores Fagg references are equivalent to the poked holes in our two pieces of paper. And they’re essential for the platinum-based structure to do its job.
“The 3-dimensional bicontinuous nanoporous structures originating from platinum-silver materials are efficient at reducing fouling and increasing the reaction rate,” says Fagg. “So, what does that mean for consumer products that use such technology? Imagine a diabetes test strip that you could use for an entire month or even a year rather than just once. Or a cell phone battery you could charge in minutes rather than hours.”
About VCU and the 3D Bicontinuous Nanoporous Pt-Based Materials
The VCU 3D Bicontinuous Nanoporous Pt-Based Materials were developed by Ahmed A. Farghaly and Maryanne M. Collinson in conjunction with the VCU Chemistry Department. This new material could be used for many technological applications, like high-power output fuel cells, battery-like supercapacitors, chemical sensors, automotive catalysts, filtration systems, and energy storage, just to name a few.
Research Link: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsami.8b02900
More info Contact
Brent Fagg, VCU Licensing Associate