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Making a Better Battery

phone battery charging
Credit: Raw Pixel/Pixabay

Helping smartphones hold their charge longer.

Light-weight and energy-efficient, lithium-ion batteries have long been the battery of choice for powering smartphones, laptops, hoverboards, drones and other portable electronic devices. But even these low-maintenance batteries have their drawbacks—they lose their ability to hold charge after about 3 years, can catch on fire and often have to be recharged daily.

To make a better lithium-ion battery or find innovative alternatives, PML researchers in collaboration with scientists from the Material Measurement Laboratory (MML) are studying how lithium batteries behave on some of the tiniest of scales, a few tens of atoms across. The scientists use an instrument that injects with exquisite precision an ultranarrow beam of lithium ions (charged atoms of lithium) into the negative terminal of a laboratory battery.  They then record the microscopic changes in the battery as the ions diffuse through. The researchers are particularly interested in monitoring how the injected ions affect different types of battery materials, which may shed light on why batteries fail.

The set of studies may lead to the development of more durable lithium-ion batteries as well as improved choices for battery materials.

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Created February 5, 2019, Updated November 15, 2019