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NEWS
Lithium Battery Could Be More Powerful Thanks To New Design
July 5, 2018

Cornell University chemical engineering professor Lynden Archer believes there needs to be a battery technology “revolution” – and thinks that his lab has fired one of the first shots.

“What we have now [in lithium-ion battery technology] is actually at the limits of its capabilities,” said Prof. Archer. “The lithium-ion battery, which has become the workhorse in powering new electronics technologies, operates at over 90 percent of its theoretical storage capacity. Minor engineering tweaks may lead to better batteries with more storage, but this is not a long-term solution.”

Snehashis “Sne” Choudhury, Ph.D., has come up with what Prof. Archer terms an “elegant” solution to a fundamental problem with rechargeable batteries that use energy-dense metallic lithium anodes: sometimes-catastrophic instability due to dendrites, which are spines of lithium that grow from the anode as ions travel back and forth through the electrolyte during charge and discharge cycles.

According to information, if the dendrite breaks through the separator and reaches the cathode, short-circuiting and fire can occur. Solid electrolytes have been shown to suppress dendrite growth mechanically, but at the expense of fast ion transport. Dr. Choudhury’s solution: Confine dendrite growth by the structure of the electrolyte itself, which can be controlled chemically.

Their paper, “Confining Electrodeposition of Metals in Structured Electrolytes,” was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Choudhury also devised a method for direct visualization of the inner workings of their experimental battery. The group confirmed theoretical predictions about dendrite growth with Dr, Choudhury’s device.

The work was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.


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