Theorists state Graphene-boron mix demonstrates promise for lithium-ion batteriesIrate frustration led to the discovery by the Rice University (RU) scientists, when they determined how Graphene might be made useful for high-capacity batteries.
Theoretical calculations led by the physicist Boris Yakobson - found that a Gaphene/Boron anode should be able to hold a lot of lithium (Li) and perform at a proper voltage for use in Li-ion batteries. Such a discovery appears in the American Chemical Society's (ACS) Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. 
The future potentials offered by Graphene are becoming clearer by the day - especially as labs around the world grow and test the one-atom-thick form of carbon (C). Because the nanomaterial is as thin as possible - battery manufacturers hope to take advantage of Graphene's massive surface area to store Li ions. Subsequently counting both sides of the material - one gram would cover 2,630 square meters (m2) - at least equivalent to half a football field. However, there's a problem, which is that the ions do not stick to Graphene very well.
Yakobson states - "As often happens with Graphene, people over-sold how wonderful it would be to absorb lithium,". Yakobson's group analyzes relationships between atoms based on their intrinsic energy - "but in experiments, they could not see it, and they were frustrated."
Interestingly scientists at the Honda Research Institute - who are interested in powerful batteries for electric cars - requested for Yakobson to view the situation. Yakobson went onto state - "We looked at the theoretical capacity of an ideal sheet of graphene, and then how it could or could not benefit from curvature (into a nano-tube) or topological defects. Our initial expectation was that it would improve lithium binding." "But the theory did not show any significant improvement," - he said. In addition, Yakobson stated - "I was disappointed, but the experimentalists were satisfied because now their observations made sense."
The calculations conducted - involved Graphene with defects, in which the honeycomb array is disrupted by five- and seven-atom polygons, fared no better. However, Yakobson stated - "So we decided to explore defects of different types where we replace some carbon atoms with another element that creates more attractive sites for lithium," - "and boron is one of them."
Yakobson continues to state - "A carbon/boron compound in which a quarter of the carbon atoms are replaced by boron turned out to be nearly ideal as a way to activate Graphene's ability to store lithium." Essentially boron (B) attracts Li ions into the matrix, but not so strongly that they cannot be pulled away from a carbon/boron (C/B) anode by a more attractive cathode. On this point - Yakobson states - "Having boron in the lattice gives very nice binding, so the capacity is good enough, two times larger than graphite," - and "at the same time, the voltage is also right." Please Note graphite is the most commonly employed electrode in Li-ion batteries.
Yakobson and Rice graduate student Yuanyue Liu, first author of the paper, calculated that a fully lithiated sheet of two-dimensional grapene/boron would have a capacity of 714 milli-amp hours per gram (mAh/g). Such a capacity translates to an energy density of 2,120 watt-hours per kilogram (W.h/kg) - much greater than graphite, when paired with a commercial lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2) cathode. In addition, the theorist also determined that material would not radically expand or contract as it changes and discharges. Yakobson states - "In this case, it seems quite reasonable and exceeds - theoretically, at least - what is available now,"
In summary, an important step going forward will be to find a way to fabricate the C/B compound in large quantities - "It does exist, but it's not commercially available" - as Yakobson concludes. Original article available here
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 Yuanyue Liu, Vasilii I. Artyukhov, Mingjie Liu, Avetik R. Harutyunyan and Boris I. Yakobson - Feasibility of Lithium Storage on Graphene and Its Derivatives. Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 4, 10, 1737-1742 (2013). Journal citation available here