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【Brief Description】The rapid expansion of electric vehicle production is benefiting from lithium-ion batteries that enable lightweight electronic devices.

The rapid expansion of electric vehicle production is benefiting from lithium-ion batteries that enable lightweight electronic devices.

However, lithium-ion batteries also face the range limitations of electric vehicles, and researchers around the world are continuing to drive research to achieve greater energy densities (that is, the amount of energy that can be stored in a given mass of material), thereby increasing current There are device capabilities, including enabling new applications such as long-range drones and robotics.

A promising approach is to replace conventional graphite with metal electrodes, which will have higher charging voltages at the cathode. However, research has also been hindered by various unwanted chemical reactions in the electrolyte of the separated electrodes.

Now, a research team at MIT has discovered a new electrolyte that overcomes these problems without sacrificing cycle life. The discovery could turn lithium-ion batteries, which now typically store around 260 watt-hours per kilogram, to around 420 watt-hours per kilogram, the researchers said. This will lead to longer ranges for electric vehicles and longer ranges for portable devices.

An electrolyte is a solution that carries lithium ions back and forth between the anode and cathode as they charge. More specifically, the atoms in the metal alloy are easily dissolved in the electrolyte solution, and as the battery is cycled, the electrodes can fall off without eventually starting to crack and degrade.

In this study, the new electrolyte was shown to be highly resistant to the dissolution of metal atoms, which prevents the loss of mass and the usual problem of cracking. It also reduces the accumulation of unwanted compounds on the electrode surface by more than tenfold and still allows the easy movement of the lithium ions needed to charge the battery.

This electrolyte exhibits chemical resistance to oxidation of high-energy nickel-rich materials, prevents particle breakage, and stabilizes the cathode during cycling. This electrolyte also enables stable and reversible stripping and electroplating of lithium metal. And this is an important step toward realizing rechargeable lithium metal batteries, which have twice the energy of state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries.

This discovery will facilitate further electrolyte research and the design of liquid electrolytes for lithium metal batteries that are comparable to solid-state electrolytes. This could result in a smartphone or electric car that weighs the same but lasts longer between charges, which is significant for transportation.

The researchers say their next step is to scale up the production, as the technology can be achieved through a very simple reaction using readily available commercial feedstocks. Only at present, the price of precursor compounds for synthesizing electrolytes is still expensive, but if it can be recognized by the market, it may further expand the scale to push prices down.