A team of scientists at Rice University have announced the development of a new electrode material for battery architecture that could see exponential improvement in the lifespan of rechargeable batteries.
The breakthrough came from an unusual method – applying a strip of adhesive tape to the copper current collector on a lithium battery anode and using lasers to bombard it with extreme heat. The heating process made the tape serve as a porous silicon and oxygen coating, made with small amounts of graphene. The coating protects the current collector, allowing it to effectively absorb and release the lithium metal without forming dendrites on the surface. Dendrites are to blame for various battery problems including short-circuiting and catching fire.
“When there is zero excess lithium metal in the anodes, they generally suffer fast degradation, producing cells with very limited cycle life,” report co-author Rodrigo Salvatierra said. “On the bright side, these ‘anode-free’ cells become lighter and deliver better performance, but with the cost of a short life.”
The scientists said their method allows batteries to last three times as long compared to existing lithium metal batteries.