Artistic rendering of copper sulfide above the critical temperature at which it becomes “superionic.” Credit: Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

For superionic material, smaller is better

February 8, 2013 by Mike Ross

(—A material that could enable faster memory chips and more efficient batteries can switch between high and low ionic conductivity states much faster than previously thought, SLAC and Stanford researchers have determined. The key is to use extremely small chunks of it.

“Our result is a step toward using this material, copper sulfide, in low-cost solid-state electrical batteries,” said the leader of the research team, Aaron Lindenberg, of the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences and the Stanford PULSE Institute. The institutes are run jointly by SLAC and Stanford.

“For the first time, we’ve seen the atomic-scale details of exactly how these nanoscale materials transform, or switch, from a state that is poorly conducting to one that is highly conducting,” he said. “And what we’ve learned gives us confidence about our ability to tune its structure and properties to be useful in new technologies.”

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