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A new coating could be the key to lighter lithium metal batteries



The problem with lithium-metal batteries is that they often develop small, tendril-like protrusions called dendrites. Over time, dendrites can pierce the protective film separating the positive and negative ends of the battery. And if the two sides interact with each other, there is a risk of a short circuit, which in turn can cause the entire energy cell to catch fire.

A research team at Stanford University now believes it has solved the problem. The researchers developed a protective layer that significantly limits dendrite growth. According to the team, the new film was able to build a lithium-metal battery that contained 85 percent of its original charge after 1

60 charging cycles. By contrast, most current lithium metal batteries retain 30 percent of their original charge when they reach the same point in their life.

Each device would benefit from a lighter, higher-capacity battery, but the technology would be a game for electric vehicles (EVs). As the research team notes, most electric vehicles spend about a quarter of their battery capacity on electricity. With lithium metal batteries, the range of electric vehicles would increase significantly.

Of course, as with most new battery technologies, the challenge is to bring the new technology out of the lab and into the field. In particular, the Stanford team says that the protective coating only overcomes "some" of the problems associated with lithium metal batteries. In short, it will take at best years to get lithium metal batteries into consumer electronics. This is underlined by the fact that in 2015 Stanford spoke for the first time about the potential of the technology.


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