Friday October 27, 2017

Li-ion Batteries Blow Up Because They Breed Nanowire Crystals

Thanks to researchers at Stanford we are getting closer to finally figuring out why Li-ion batteries are blowing up. They published this paper on Thursday. Basically growths called dendrites pierce through the separator, a membrane placed in between the cathode and anode causing a short circuit. They still aren't sure what causes the dendrites to form, but they are working on that in the hopes of one day designing safer and longer-lasting batteries. Hey, Elon, look these guys up!

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The researchers examined thousands of lithium metal dendrites forming in different electrolytes and also the solid electrolyte interphase, a coating that forms on the metal electrodes.

Cryo-EM, a technique that won this year's Nobel Prize for Chemistry, was vital to studying the dendrites in more detail. Traditional transmission electron (TEM) microscopy techniques which involve aiming a beam of electrons through a sample destroyed the dendrites.