Stanford University researchers developed a method to design a pure lithium anode that will change the future of battery designs. Design engineers have been trying to develop this type of anode for decades, but have not been able to accomplish this feat.
Batteries are comprised of three basic components, an electrolyte, an anode, and a cathode. Today’s lithium ion batteries only have lithium in the electrolyte, but if batteries could be made with a lithium anode, there would be a significant increase in efficiency. The team of researchers covered a lithium anode with a protective layer of interconnected carbon domes that resembles a honeycomb. This protective layer, called a nanosphere, creates a flexible, uniform, and non-reactive film that protects the lithium as it expands from charging. The nanosphere improves the coulmobic efficiency, the ratio of the amount of lithium that is separated from the anode when the battery is in use compared to the amount added when charging. To be commercially viable, batteries must have a coulombic efficiency of 99.9 percent or more over as many cycles as possible. The lithium metal anode created by Stanford achieved a coulombic efficiency of 99 percent over 150 cycles.