• Tech Tech

Scientists use innovative microscopic technology to potentially change the future of our electronics: 'We can help accelerate the design'

These new methods could make an immense impact on the battery research community.

These new methods could make an immense impact on the battery research community.

Photo Credit: Ella Maru Studio/Columbia Engineering

A team of scientists at Columbia University published research on a microscopic technology that can be a game-changer in the design of lithium batteries.

As explained in SciTechDaily, Columbia Engineering revealed in the journal Joule last month that "nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy techniques can be leveraged to design the anode surface in lithium metal batteries." These new methods could make an immense impact on the battery research community.

"We believe that, armed with all the data we've pulled together, we can help accelerate the design of lithium metal batteries and help make them safe for consumers, which folks have been trying to do for more than four decades," said team leader Lauren Marbella, an associate professor of chemical engineering, per SciTechDaily.

While lithium batteries that use graphite anodes are commonly used in our cell phones and electric vehicles, it has been found that lithium batteries with metal anodes are far superior because they provide significantly higher energy density.

SciTechDaily noted that not only would lithium metal batteries provide a longer range for electric vehicles at a more affordable price, but they would also be versatile enough to power multiple "electrified modes of transportation, including semi-trucks and small aircraft."

The new development also carries a positive environmental impact, as it could help facilitate the transition to electric vehicles that are much kinder to the planet.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the transportation sector is responsible for 83% of carbon dioxide pollution, the highest carbon dioxide pollution rate of any domestic energy sector. By switching from passenger vehicles and trucks to EVs powered by lithium-ion batteries, we can make a substantial dent in that air pollution.

SciTechDaily noted that the commercialization of lithium metal batteries "is still far off in the future." More research is needed to develop a battery anode whose structure won't be impacted by lithium metal during normal use.

"Once we know what structural changes are occurring — for instance, are things like lithium fluoride becoming amorphous, defected, nano-sized — then we can intentionally engineer these in and design lithium metal batteries that meet the performance metrics required for commercialization," Marbella said, per SciTechDaily. "The NMR experiment is one of the few that can accomplish this task and give us the very information essential to pushing anode surface design forward."

Join our free newsletter for weekly updates on the coolest innovations improving our lives and saving our planet.

Cool Divider