Researchers have discovered that the capacity and stability of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries could be increased by using a nano-crystalline, layered-composite structure for the positive electrode.
Research on the new approach took place at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. The method uses a two-component composite structure consisting of an active component that provides for charge storage embedded in an inactive component that stabilises the structure.
In recent tests, the materials yielded exceptionally high charge-storage capacities, greater than 250mAh/g, or more than twice the capacity of materials in conventional rechargeable lithium batteries. In addition, by using manganese-rich systems, instead of the more expensive cobalt and nickel versions of lithium batteries, overall battery cost is reduced.
Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries which would incorporate the new materials with increased capacity and enhanced stability could in future be used in a diverse range of applications. These include consumer electronics such as mobile phones and laptop computers, cordless tools and medical devices such as cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators. In larger batteries, the technology could be used in the next generation of hybrid electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.