Coating Developed for Improving Lithium Ion Batteries
The invention of lithium-ion batteries has made many other technologies possible, thanks to the high energy density they give us. However, we are always looking for more and the current battery design has limits, as do possible alternatives. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have found a possible way to break one of those alternative's limits with an inexpensive coating.
Inside of every battery is a cathode and anode, the electrodes for the positive and negative charged sides respectively. Graphite and other carbon materials are currently used in lithium-ion batteries for the anode, because it works well and is rather resilient. A lithium metal anode would be far superior though, providing up two ten times the energy density, but lacks that resiliency as dendrites form from the anode, cutting its lifespan short. What the researchers discovered is that by adding methyl viologen to the electrolyte, the ion-containing fluid between the electrodes, a coating would form over the lithium metal as the organic molecules touch the metal, preventing dendrite growth.
The researchers have already found that the methyl viologen can triple the cycling lifetime of the battery, which is truly significant and could be increased with further investigation. It is also worth noting that methyl viologen is very low in cost and is already compatible with manufacturing lithium ion batteries.