Your smartphone and other portable devices with lithium batteries could soon be recharged much faster, say scientists who have found a way to improve the performance of these batteries.
Rechargeable lithium batteries have helped power the ‘portable revolution’ in mobile phones, laptops and tablet computers, and new generations of lithium batteries are being developed for electric vehicles and to store energy from wind and solar power.
Researchers from the University of Bath in the UK and University of Illinois at Chicago have found why adding charged metal atoms to tunnel structures within batteries improves their performance. Storing electrical energy more quickly than current electrodes is important for future applications in portable electronics and electric vehicles. It was recently discovered that large metal ions such as potassium can improve charge storage in batteries, but it was not understood why this was the case.
The research teams used a powerful combination of structural experiments and computer simulations to unravel for the first time why adding charged potassium into tunnel-like structures of low-cost manganese oxide has a strong beneficial effect on the battery performance.
They discovered that adding positively charged ions increased how fast lithium moves within the tunnel structures, which is crucial to improving the charging of batteries. “Understanding these processes is important for the future design and development of battery materials, and could lead to faster charging batteries that will benefit consumers and industry,” said Saiful Islam, professor at University of Bath. “Developing new materials holds the key to lighter, cheaper and safer batteries, including for electric vehicles which will help cut carbon emissions,” said Islam. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.