Fast-Charging Lithium-Metal Batteries Closer

A recent Nature Energy paper reports progress toward lithium-metal batteries that can charge in about an hour based on quickly grown lithium metal crystals. Using a crystal growing surface that lithium doesn’t “like,” the seed crystals grow dense layers of uniform lithium metal. These layers are of great interest because they lack battery-performance-degrading spikes called dendrites. Dendrites in battery anodes have long been a significant roadblock to fast charging. In collaboration with UC Irvine imaging researchers, University of California San Diego engineers published their results in Nature Energy.

Researchers replaced typical copper surfaces on the negative side (the anode) of lithium-metal batteries with a lithiophobic nanocomposite surface of lithium fluoride and iron. Lithium crystal seeds formed, growing dense lithium layers, even at high charging rates.

This could eliminate the roadblock holding back the widespread use of energy-dense lithium-metal batteries for such applications as electric vehicles (EVs) and portable electronics. Currently, we must charge lithium-metal batteries extremely slowly to maintain battery performance and avoid safety problems.

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