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'Workhorse' lithium battery could be more powerful thanks to new design

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Robbie Kromer
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ITHACA, N.Y. - Cornell University chemical engineering professor Lynden Archer believes there needs to be a battery technology "revolution" - and thinks that his lab has fired one of the first shots.

"What we have now [in lithium-ion battery technology] is actually at the limits of its capabilities," said Archer.

"The lithium-ion battery, which has become the workhorse in powering new electronics technologies, operates at over 90 percent of its theoretical storage capacity.

Minor engineering tweaks may lead to better batteries with more storage, but this is not a long-term solution."

"You need a kind of radical mindset change," he said, "and that means that you've got to almost start at the beginning."

Snehashis "Sne" Choudhury, Ph.D. '18, has come up with what Archer terms an "elegant" solution to a fundamental problem with rechargeable batteries that use energy-dense metallic lithium anodes: sometimes-catastrophic instability due to dendrites, which are spines of lithium that grow from the anode as ions travel back and forth through the electrolyte during charge and discharge cycles.

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