Researchers from the University of Bath in the UK and University of Illinois at Chicago have found a way to improve the performance of the lithium batteries.
This could result in considerable decrease in the time required for charging your smartphones and other portable devices.
The new generations of lithium batteries are being developed for electric vehicles and to store energy from wind and solar power.
Rechargeable lithium batteries have helped power the ‘portable revolution’ in mobile phones, laptops and tablet computers.
Storing electrical energy more quickly than current electrodes is important for future applications in portable electronics and electric vehicles.
It was recently discovered that large metal ions such as potassium can improve charge storage in batteries, but it was not understood why this was the case.
The research teams used a powerful combination of structural experiments and computer simulations to unravel for the first time why adding charged potassium into tunnel-like structures of low-cost manganese oxide has a strong beneficial effect on the battery performance.
They discovered that adding positively charged ions increased how fast lithium moves within the tunnel structures, which is crucial to improving the charging of batteries.
“Understanding these processes is important for the future design and development of battery materials, and could lead to faster charging batteries that will benefit consumers and industry,” said Saiful Islam, professor at University of Bath.
“Developing new materials holds the key to lighter, cheaper and safer batteries, including for electric vehicles which will help cut carbon emissions,” said Islam. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.