Really Rechargeable Batteries
It’s surprising how much we rely on battery power. Everything from our phones to our cameras depends on little power sources called lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). Released in the early 1990’s, LIBs are now ubiquitous, and are used to power consumer electronics, hand tools and electric vehicles. They also have important roles in medicine, defence and even space exploration.
Because of the variety of ways in which LIBs are currently used, improvements to the batteries could have substantial and far-reaching effects. Scientists at Diamond are using synchrotron light to investigate ways of developing the materials inside the batteries so that they are more durable, cheaper, safer and able to store more energy.
With the capabilities on I07, Diamond’s high-resolution X-ray beamline, scientists can investigate the structure of materials in different conditions, including high heat. They’re able to look inside the material to see how it is affected by a changing environment and how it could be developed to be more effective.
Scientists working on LIBs are using I07 to investigate the deterioration of batteries over time as a result of charging. The nanotech experts also want to analyse the structural stability of the batteries under changing temperatures. Ever seen that label warning you not to let your laptop get too hot? Or have you bought tech that stopped holding a charge after a year or two? Well those things may one day be a thing of the past.
By adding ions to the material inside LIBs, scientists hope to make them more stable, more efficient, and able to charge faster. This could have a significant impact both on the everyday convenience of having really rechargeable consumer electronics, but also in the wider field of renewable energy. Electric cars that charge quickly and stay running for longer could make environmentally friendly transport a much more popular option for commuters. It goes to show how far-reaching research carried out at Diamond can be. Who knows, perhaps one day we’ll even have the synchrotron running on battery power!