How some battery materials expand without cracking

April 13, 2017

A new paper from Yet-Ming Chiang in Nano Letters describes for the first time what happens in rechargeable lithium-ion and other battery electrodes when they expand and contract as the lithium ions move in and out during charging and discharging. This had been a mystery, since these materials are as brittle as glass, and would be expected to shatter during these cycles, but they don’t. It turns out that he material briefly transforms from a crystalline state to a glassy state during these changes, which can accommodate the stress without cracking. The new finding may help in future battery design.

Image of green batteries on a backdrop of ice and bubbles.

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