Stanford’s Lithium Metal Battery Breakthrough Could Boost Gadget Power

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Scientists at Stanford University have made significant progress with a battery technology that could easily double or triple the energy storage capacity of your smartphones, tablets and laptops. If the technology is commercialized, you would no longer have to stick to an outlet far too frequently. According to a study published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, researchers have made an advance in designing a battery with lithium anode.

Stanford achieves a breakthrough in battery technology

In the existing lithium-ion battery, the anode is made of silicon or graphite. The anode provides electrons (negative charge) into the electrolyte which contains the positively charged ions. Lithium has lightweight properties and high-energy density. But it is not currently used as an anode in batteries. That’s because it creates metal deposits with each charge and discharge cycle, which poses serious safety risks and low-energy efficiency, reports PCWorld.

That means electronics companies and battery manufacturers choose a sub-optimal material to produce batteries to avoid safety concerns. But Stanford scientists have found a way to use lithium as anode without compromising on the safety or efficiency. Scientists managed to coat the lithium anode with a special protective barrier of carbon nanospheres, which are about 20 nanometers thick. They found that it isolated the metal deposits. theoretically improving efficiency and eliminating the safety risks.

Former U.S. Secretary of Energy also working with Stanford researchers

The team of researchers also includes Steven Chu, a former U.S. Secretary of Energy. Researchers noted that the cyclic Coulombic efficiency is very stable at about 99% for well over 150 cycles. But it has to be increased to more than 99.9% for practical batteries. Coulombic efficiency is usually expressed as a percentage in rechargeable batteries. It compares the energy used during discharge to the energy used while charging.

Yi Cui of Stanford University’s Department of Chemistry said that the battery technology they have developed could be commercialized in five years. It can boost the battery life of laptops, smartphones and even electric vehicles. It can also be used in grid-scale energy storage.

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