science 18.12.2015 14:28

Chemistry Institute collaborates in breakthrough on Li-ion batteries

Ljubljana, 18 December - Researchers from the National Institute of Chemistry and the College de France from Paris have achieved a breakthrough in materials science that has the potential to double the storage capacity of Li-ion batteries of the kind used in electric cars by 50%.

Ljubljana.
Researcher Robert Dominko from the National Institute of Chemistry.
Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA

Experts in material synthesis, crystallography, microscopy and theoretical chemistry have shown that the energy density of Li-ion batteries is not intrinsically limited by the number of electrons that can be reversibly included in the electrochemical reaction.

Under certain conditions the oxygen sublayer in the crystalline structure can enter the reaction as well, which significantly expands storage capacity of batteries that use lithium layered oxides.

"We've shown that we have to take a broader view of the materials built into batteries," said Chemistry Institute researcher Robert Dominko.

The findings were published in Science on 18 December in the article Visualization of O-O peroxo-like dimers in high-capacity layered oxides for Li-ion batteries, the first article the Chemistry Institute has ever had published in the respected journal.

It is based on the work of post-doctoral researcher Eric McCalla under the mentorship of Dominko and Jean-Marie Marascon from College de France.

"The achievement places the Laboratory for Materials Chemistry among the top global labs in this field. It indicates that in the future we can expect must stronger batteries that will significantly improve the range of electric cars and might even make it possible to conduct long-haul electric flights," Dominko said.