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Self-Healing Li-Ion Batteries Created

February 22, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

“A newly created lithium-ion battery that can heal itself may improve the life span and safety of today’s energy-storage technologies, researchers report.

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries power cell phones, laptops and other portable electronics. But, like any batteries, they tend to break down over time.

“There are many different types of degradation that happen, and fixing this degradation could help us make longer-lasting batteries,” said Scott White, a materials engineer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who reported the details of the battery February 20 at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

One site of damage is the anode, a battery’s negatively charged terminal. As a battery charges and discharges, the anode swells and shrinks. Over time, this cycling causes damage, creating cracks that can interfere with the flow of current and, ultimately, kill the battery.

To counteract this cracking, White embedded tiny microspheres inside the graphite of an anode. As cracks formed in the anode, they tore open the plastic shells, releasing the contents within: a material called indium gallium arsenide. This liquid metal alloy seeped out of the spheres and filled the cracks in the anode, restoring the flow of electricity.”

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