A team of researchers at Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has invented a coating that overcomes some of the battery’s defects, described in a paper “A dynamic, electrolyte-blocking, and single-ion-conductive network for stable lithium-metal anodes”, published Aug. 26 in Joule.
In laboratory tests, the coating significantly extended the battery’s life. It also dealt with the combustion issue by greatly limiting the tiny needlelike structures — or dendrites — that pierce the separator between the battery’s positive and negative sides. In addition to ruining the battery, dendrites can create a short circuit within the battery’s flammable liquid. Lithium-ion batteries occasionally have the same problem, but dendrites have been a non-starter for lithium metal rechargeable batteries to date.
“We’re addressing the holy grail of lithium metal batteries,” said Zhenan Bao, professor of chemical engineering, who is senior author of the paper along with Yi Cui, professor of materials science and engineering and of photon science at SLAC. Bao added that dendrites had prevented lithium metal batteries from being used in what may be the next generation of electric vehicles.