Could this be a boon for the development of next-generation electric vehicles? | Shutterstock/ Scharfsinn Hope has been restored for the rechargeable lithium metal battery — a potential battery powerhouse relegated for decades to the laboratory by its short life expectancy and occasional fiery demise while its rechargeable sibling, the lithium-ion battery, now rakes in more than $30 billion a year. 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 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 […]

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