Lithium Anode Developed for Improved BatteriesCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: July 30, 2014 09:31AM
Batteries are a big deal today as without them we could not have cellphones, laptops, and many other advanced pieces of technologies. While batteries have enabled these technologies, they also limit them by needing to be recharged for continued use. Researchers at Stanford University have recently made a discovery that could lead to batteries with substantially greater lifespans than what you can find today.
Lithium-ion batteries are very popular today because they are rechargeable and can store a great deal of energy. Within each of these batteries is an electrolyte, containing lithium ions, an anode and a cathode, likely made of graphite of silicon. While those materials work well for the anode, researchers have known for some time that lithium would make a better anode, but lithium poses two challenges. One is that as a lithium anode would absorb lithium ions from the electrolyte, the anode would swell to such a size that it would fracture, which could lead to a short circuit as lithium ions escape from the fractures, forming dendrites. The other is that lithium is so reactive that it would use up the electrolyte and shorten the battery's lifespan. To solve both these issues, the Stanford researchers developed domes of carbon to surround the lithium anode, forming a nanosphere. As the nanospheres are flexible, they will survive the swelling but block dendrites from forming, and because they are not chemically reactive, the lithium ions will not chemically react with the anode.
Potentially a lithium anode battery could enable phones to have double or triple their current lifespan, or drop the cost of electric vehicles by requiring fewer batteries to achieve a three hundred mile range. Currently though, the cycling efficiency of the battery is not high enough for commercial use yet, but you can believe many are working to get it there.
Source: Stanford University