Spanish scientists discover the antimonene, a graphene antimony to store energy

Since it was discovered a few decades ago the two-dimensional material of carbon which we now know as graphene, have been developing new and different nanomaterials with many potential applications, including in the field of energy generation and storage.

A team from the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) have discovered the antimonene, a new two-dimensional material of a thickness of monoatomic composed of atoms of antimony. Although its existence had been predicted in theoretical studies, only until now has managed to isolate in the laboratory. The authors have described their characteristics in an article published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

In the finding the researchers from the group of Nanomaterials of the UAM, led by Félix Zamora, counted with the collaboration of the group of Sensors and Biosensors of the UNIVERSITY that directs Mª Encarnación Lorenzo, and of the group of experts in electrochemistry that leads Craig Banks Manchester Metropolitan University (Uk).

“This collaboration has allowed us to discover the incredible properties of the antimonene for energy storage, being used this material for the fabrication of supercapacitors“, say the authors.

The supercapacitors are devices able to store large amounts of electrical energy in the form of electrostatic charges and release them quickly when needed. Its operation is based on the separation of electric charges (positive and negative). These loads in the form of ions are separated thanks to the coating of the nanostructure of the material used, antimonene, either by anions or cations, depending on the electrode (anode or cathode) of the forming part.

Nanostructure

“The nanostructure of the antimonene presents a high ratio surface-to-volume, which is further increased by the formation of channels and gaps between their lamins, nano-sized, which facilitates the distribution and the movement of the ions in its interior, making this an ideal candidate for use in supercapacitadores”, say scientists at the UAM.

Although the operation of the supercapacitor is not as well known as the battery or batteries, their use is becoming more widespread. Among the most popular applications is their use in electric motors of hybrid vehicles, like in hospitals and elevators (such as emergency generators against falls from power network).

“The results of the tests carried out to estimate the ability to store and release energy quickly by the antimonene have been extraordinary. It is capable of storing amounts of energy four times higher than those obtained with the world-renowned graphene, and in addition showing a great stability to cycles of charge and discharge of electrical energy,” explained the researchers.

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

In addition, and given the viability of the use of this material as supercondensador, we are studying applications even more promising as they can be use in batteries of sodium, replacing the existing lithium, given the scarcity of this latter material in front of the huge amounts of sodium present in the nature.

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