Lithium-ion batteries have several advantages. They boast of high energy densities, means of energy storage, and longer lifetimes compared to other batteries. However, on the downside, they can also easily overheat and at times explode. Not only is this but they also rather expensive to produce. Their energy density is although quite good but nowhere near to petrol. All these problems collectively limit the widespread use of lithium-ion batteries, especially for the electric car sector and for solar power’s grid-scale storage.
Now, to have a possible solution to all these problems, researchers have developed a simple-lab technique that will help them to look within lithium-ion batteries. Thus, enabling them to follow lithium ions moving in real-time as batteries charge and discharge, which was previously impossible. The innovative technique might be a great advancement for Next-Generation Batteries Market as it can be used to identify speed-limiting processes. The elimination of such processes could facilitate batteries present in laptops and smartphones to charge in under five minutes.
The only way to enhance the workings of lithium-ion batteries so that they would charge faster is by understanding the process that occurs in functioning materials in real-time. The one and only technology that can make this happen at present is the electron microscopy technique which is expensive and time-consuming. So, researchers used the optical microscopy technique developed by the Cambridge team, known as interferometric scattering microscopy. The approach enabled them to observe individual LCO particles (Lithium Cobalt Oxide) through measurement of the amount of scattered light.
Researchers discovered that different lithium-ion batteries have different speed limits depending on whether it is charging or discharging. At the time of charging, the speed relies on the pace at which the lithium ions can pass across the particles of active material. While discharging, the speed relies on the pace at which ions are inserted at the edges. The team stated that if these two mechanisms are controlled, that would be the key for fast-charging lithium-ion batteries.
The technique presented is nothing but a simple way of looking at ion dynamics present in solid-state materials and could be used for all sorts of batteries material. The high throughput characteristic of the approach helps particles to be sampled over the entire electrode. In the future, it would lead to more exploration of the conditions that occur when a battery fails and the ways in which that can be prevented.
The research team specified that their technique could cause a change in technology speed resulting in the fast-moving inner workings of a battery. Now that one can see the phase boundaries changing, an important piece of the puzzle essential to the development of next-generation batteries has been solved. The team revealed that their innovation could benefit the existing battery materials as well as accelerate the development of next-generation batteries. So, soon one of the biggest technological hurdles would potentially be removed.
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