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Engineers use carbon nanospheres to protect lithium from the reactive and expansive problems that have restricted its use as an anode
Engineers across the globe have been racing to design smaller, cheaper and more efficient rechargeable batteries to meet the power storage needs of everything from handheld gadgets to electric cars.
In a paper published today in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, researchers at Stanford University report that they have taken a big step toward accomplishing what battery designers have been trying to do for decades – design a pure lithium anode.
All batteries have three basic components: an electrolyte to provide electrons, an anode to discharge those electrons, and a cathode to receive them.
Today, we say we have lithium batteries, but that is only partly true. What we have are lithium ion batteries. The lithium is in the electrolyte, but not in the anode. An anode of pure lithium would be a huge boost to battery efficiency.
"Of all the materials that one might use in an anode, lithium has the greatest potential. Some call it the Holy Grail," said Yi Cui, a professor of Material Science and Engineering and leader of the research team. "It is very lightweight and it has the highest energy density. You get more power per volume and weight, leading to lighter, smaller batteries with more power."
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