The need to optimize lithium batteries, both in terms of costs, power and lightness, has led to a large part of the efforts of industry and science to focus on this objective. From there arises a research undertaken at the University of Texas that could respond to that challenge. To do this, experts have developed a new material for the anode that simplifies the production process to the maximum, makes it possible to manufacture smaller and lighter batteries, in addition to doubling the load capacity of the anodes.
Named IdEA (for Interdigitated Eutectic Alloy), this new anode breaks with the complex manufacturing processes that had dominated until now, to reduce the steps required for the mass production of lithium-ion battery anodes to two. To the savings in time that this entails, is added the materials necessary for this process.
To do this, and under the leadership of Arumugam Manthiram, director of the Texas Institute of Materials, this team has developed an entirely new material in which the alloying eutectic metal is rolled into nanostructured metal sheets. “Eutectic microstructures form naturally thanks to thermodynamics. So, it is possible to reduce the microstructure by rolling it; an extraordinarily cheap step to convert a microstructure into a nanostructure” , they explain from the team.
In addition to facilitating the steps compared to those that are necessary in traditional production (in which the graphite requires a copper coating that, on the other hand, does not add anything to the power of the batteries), this new approach reduces the weight of the anodes by half thanks to a material that also reduces the thickness to a quarter compared to that of conventional batteries.
The result, they say from the University of Texas, will be the manufacture of smaller and lighter batteries. In addition, “ the material performs well in the performance metrics that are necessary to move towards the commercialization of these lithium-ion batteries” , says Manthiram. Portable electronic equipment, such as mobile phones, medical equipment, and the electric vehicle industry, are the main fields in which this innovation could have a great impact by opening the door to cheaper batteries and, above all, with anodes that take up much less space.