Nanotech coating doubles the lifespan of Li-ion batteries
A team of researchers led by The University of Queensland (UQ) has used nanotechnology to develop a thin protective coating for high-voltage lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, which under normal circumstances achieve high energy density but last only several hundred cycles.
Professor Lianzhou Wang and his team from UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) have now demonstrated a battery which remains stable for more than 1000 charge–discharge cycles — more than double their typical lifespan. Their breakthrough has been described in the journal Nature Communications.
“Our process will increase the lifespan of batteries in many things — from smartphones and laptops to power tools and electric vehicles,” Prof Wang said. “We’ve designed a uniquely grown atomic-thin functional layer on the surface of a high-voltage cathode, which is the source of lithium ions and a critical aspect that limits the cycle life in a battery.
“Corrosion in one form or another is the reason that batteries degrade over time. This new approach features a minimal protective coating at a scalable process, paving the way for the deployment of these abundant high-voltage materials for next-generation, high-energy batteries.”
Prof Wang said with industry under increasing pressure to decarbonise, the development of lithium-ion batteries of lower cost, higher energy density and longer cycle life is vitally important.
“We’re confident the nanotechnology will have widespread applications across industry, including in consumer electronics, electric vehicles and the energy storage sector,” he said.
Dr Rosalind Gummow is a technical specialist from Brisbane-based R&D company VSPC, which is focused on developing and commercialising advanced cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries. She noted, “New methods like the use of epitaxial surface layers to improve the cycling efficiency and cycle life of high-voltage cathodes are vital in the quest to improve the energy density of Li-ion batteries.
“The methods developed here also have potential to stabilise other cathode materials that degrade rapidly with cycling.”
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