Lithium-ion batteries are used in everything, from your phone to handheld gaming devices. They are the basis for most portable powered devices but by design, they are typically quite old. While they’ve received their upgrades over time, lithium ion batteries have the same flaw a lot of technology has these days, overheating. Ever wondered why a phone or a hoverboard exploded? Fear not, Stanford researchers have come up with a new lithium-ion battery with heat controls!
The new design allows the lithium-ion battery to shut down when it gets too hot, then when it’s cool enough it will automatically restart. Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford state that not only can the device turn itself on and off repeatedly but it does so “without compromising performance”.
Typical a lithium-ion battery contains two core elements, two electrodes and a form of gel or liquid that carries charge between the two electrodes. People have tried to solve this problem before by adding a flame retardant to the gel used in some. When punctured or overcharged, a lithium-ion battery tends to rise in temperature and at around 150 degrees celsius they catch fire, eventually exploding.
The new battery, however, uses a tiny bit of nano-technology, by coating an electrode with a poly ethylene film with tiny nickel particles with spikes extruding from the plastic surface. When the battery heats up, the film expands meaning the spikes are pushed away from each other and the electric charge can’t be carried through the nickel elements. When it cools they retract and the charge can start to flow again.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.