Liquid Microscopy Shows New Issue with Lithium-oxygen Batteries

Lithium-oxygen Batteries

Lithium-oxygen batteries can provide almost five times more energy than lithium ion batteries. Both are used to power cell phones and the new breed of electric vehicles. However, a recent experiment showed that lithium oxygen batteries are not as great as they are made out to be. A team of researchers leveraging a new and advanced microscopy technology that can see chemical reactions happening in liquids found out another reason why lithium oxygen batteries slow down and then die after only a few discharge or charge cycles. They published their findings in a journal named Nano Energy.

As per the researchers, development of lithium peroxide in the liquid electrolyte of lithium-oxygen batteries, which they saw for the first time, is the primary cause for the slowdown and death of the devices. This is the main reason behind the dramatic plunge in efficiency and output after just a few charge or discharge cycles.

When lithium-oxygen batteries first hit the market, they were hailed for their superior energy density. However, they were found to slow down and then stop functioning altogether after a while. This was a major disadvantage compared to other batteries. The lithium peroxide that coat the electrodes of the batteries, thereby preventing chemical reactions that release energy enabling the battery to function, are considered the main culprits behind it.

The new experiment by the team of researchers led by Shahbazian-Yassar showed that at nanometer level, lithium peroxide also rears its ugly head in the liquid electrolyte component of the battery, further affecting the speed of chemical reactions.

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