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Can sodium-ion batteries replace trusty lithium-ion ones?

Sodium-ion batteries are a potential replacement for lithium batteries, but the anodes—positively charged electrodes—that work well for lithium-ion batteries don't provide the same level of performance for sodium-ion batteries.

Amorphous carbon, which lacks a crystalline structure, is known to be a useful anode, because it has defects and voids that can be used to store sodium ions. Nitrogen/phosphorus-doped carbon also offers appealing electrical properties.

In Applied Physics Reviews, researchers in China from Zhejiang University, Ningbo University, and Dongguan University of Technology describe how they applied basic physical concepts of atomic scale to build high-performance anodes for sodium-ion batteries.

"Recent studies have shown that doped amorphous carbon, especially electron-rich element-doped amorphous carbon, is a good anode for sodium storage," said Tu. "But there was no common explanation for how sodium storage works or the doping effect of doped carbon."

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