New coating could have big implications for lithium batteries

A new coating developed by the Argonne National Laboratory provides extra layer of protection for battery cathodes.

Argonne scientists have developed a new coating (shown in blue) for battery cathodes that can improve the electronic and ionic conductivity of a battery. (Image source: Argonne National Laboratory.) -

Building a better lithium-ion battery involves addressing a myriad of factors simultaneously, from keeping the battery’s cathode electrically and ionically conductive to making sure that the battery stays safe after many cycles.

In a new discovery, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new cathode coating by using an oxidative chemical vapor deposition technique that can help solve these and several other potential issues with lithium-ion batteries all in one stroke.

The researchers took particles of Argonne’s pioneering nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) cathode material and encapsulated them with a sulfur-containing polymer called PEDOT. This polymer provides the cathode a layer of protection from the battery’s electrolyte as the battery charges and discharges.

Additional layer of shielding

Unlike conventional coatings, which only protect the exterior surface of the micron-sized cathode particles and leave the interior vulnerable to cracking, the PEDOT coating had the ability to penetrate to the cathode particle’s interior, adding an additional layer of shielding.

In addition, although PEDOT prevents the chemical interaction between the battery and the electrolyte, it does allow for the necessary transport of lithium ions and electrons that the battery requires in order to function.

More information can be found on the Argonne National Laboratory website.

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