January 13, 2016

Stable "superoxide" opens the door to a new class of batteries

The lattice match between LiO2 and Ir3Li may be responsible for the LiO2 discharge
product found for the Ir-rGO cathode material.

(January 13, 2016)  While lithium-ion batteries have transformed our everyday lives, researchers are currently trying to find new chemistries that could offer even better energy possibilities. One of these chemistries, lithium-air, could promise greater energy density but has certain drawbacks as well.

Now, thanks to research at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Argonne National Laboratory, one of those drawbacks may have been overcome.

All previous work on lithium-air batteries showed the same phenomenon: the formation of lithium peroxide (Li2O2), a solid precipitate that clogged the pores of the electrode.

In a recent experiment, however, Argonne battery scientists Jun Lu, Larry Curtiss and Khalil Amine, along with American and Korean collaborators, were able to produce stable crystallized lithium superoxide (LiO2) instead of lithium peroxide during battery discharging. Unlike lithium peroxide, lithium superoxide can easily dissociate into lithium and oxygen, leading to high efficiency and good cycle life.

"This discovery really opens a pathway for the potential development of a new kind of battery," Curtiss said. "Although a lot more research is needed, the cycle life of the battery is what we were looking for."

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