Three-dimensional bicontinuous ultrafast-charge and -discharge bulk battery electrodes

Journal name:
Nature Nanotechnology
Year published:
Published online


Rapid charge and discharge rates have become an important feature of electrical energy storage devices, but cause dramatic reductions in the energy that can be stored or delivered by most rechargeable batteries (their energy capacity)1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Supercapacitors do not suffer from this problem, but are restricted to much lower stored energy per mass (energy density) than batteries8. A storage technology that combines the rate performance of supercapacitors with the energy density of batteries would significantly advance portable and distributed power technology2. Here, we demonstrate very large battery charge and discharge rates with minimal capacity loss by using cathodes made from a self-assembled three-dimensional bicontinuous nanoarchitecture consisting of an electrolytically active material sandwiched between rapid ion and electron transport pathways. Rates of up to 400C and 1,000C for lithium-ion and nickel-metal hydride chemistries, respectively, are achieved (where a 1C rate represents a one-hour complete charge or discharge), enabling fabrication of a lithium-ion battery that can be 90% charged in 2 minutes.

At a glance


  1. Bicontinuous battery electrode.
    Figure 1: Bicontinuous battery electrode.

    a, Schematic of a battery containing a bicontinuous cathode. b, Illustration of the four primary resistances in a battery electrode. c, Bicontinuous electrode fabrication process. The electrolytically active phase is yellow and the porous metal current collector is green. The electrolyte fills the remaining pores.

  2. Bicontinuous electrode microstructure.
    Figure 2: Bicontinuous electrode microstructure.

    SEM images of a bicontinuous three-dimensional electrode during each step of preparation. a, Nickel inverse opal after electropolishing (1.8 µm colloidal particle template). b, Cross-section of NiOOH/nickel composite cathode. c, Cross-section of NiOOH/nickel cathode after cycling. d, Nickel inverse opal after electropolishing (466 nm colloidal particle template). e, MnO2/nickel composite cathode. f, Lithiated MnO2/nickel composite cathode.

  3. Ultrafast discharge and charge of the NiOOH electrode.
    Figure 3: Ultrafast discharge and charge of the NiOOH electrode.

    a, Discharge curves of NiOOH/nickel cathode at various C-rates. b, Constant potential charge curves (0.45 V versus silver/AgCl) and 6C discharge curves after charging at constant potential for the indicated time. The curve labelled ‘full charge’ was charged galvanostatically at 1C.

  4. Ultrafast discharge of the lithiated MnO2 cathode.
    Figure 4: Ultrafast discharge of the lithiated MnO2 cathode.

    The lithiated MnO2 cathode was discharged at C-rates ranging from 1.1 to 1,114C.

  5. Lithium-ion battery ultrafast charge behaviour.
    Figure 5: Lithium-ion battery ultrafast charge behaviour.

    Potentiostatic charging at 3.6 V for 60 s (blue), 120 s (green) and 800 s (red), and ~3C galvanostatic discharging of the prototype lithium-ion pouch battery after each charging cycle.


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  1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Materials Research Laboratory, and Beckman Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA

    • Huigang Zhang,
    • Xindi Yu &
    • Paul V. Braun


H.Z., X.Y. and P.V.B. designed the experiments. H.Z and X.Y. performed and analysed the experiments. H.Z., X.Y. and P.V.B. wrote the manuscript. P.V.B. supervised the project.

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