The formation of lithium dendrites is still a mystery, but materials engineers study the conditions that enable dendrites and how to stop them.
Historically, as in decades ago, rechargeable lithium metal batteries were dangerous. These batteries were quickly abandoned in favor of Li-ion batteries which contain no metallic lithium and are now widely used. In efforts to continue to drive energy density up and costs down, we are again exploring how to efficiently and safely use lithium metal in batteries. Solid state batteries, free of flammable liquids, may be the solution. However, progress has been slowed because lithium metal still finds a way to short circuit the battery and limit cycle life.
Lithium - Batteries - Holy - Grail - Energy
Solid-state lithium batteries are the Holy Grail of energy storage. With potential impacts on everything from personal mobile devices to industrial renewable energy, the difficulties are worth overcoming. The goal: Build a safe and long lived lithium battery. The challenge: Use a solid-state electrolyte and stop short circuiting from the formation and growth of lithium dendrites.
In a new invited feature paper published in the Journal of Materials Research, materials engineers from Michigan Technological University weigh in on the problem. Their take is an unusual one. They focus on the unique mechanics of lithium at dimensions that are a fraction of the diameter of the hair on your head—much smaller scales than most others consider.
People - Lithium - Butter - Strength - Electrolyte
"People think of lithium as being soft as butter, so how can it possibly have the strength to penetrate through a ceramic solid electrolyte separator?" asked Erik Herbert, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Michigan Tech and one of the study's leads. He says the answer is not intuitive—smaller is stronger. Tiny physical defects like micro cracks, pores or surface roughness inevitably exist at the interface between a lithium anode and a solid electrolyte separator....
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