Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Rechargeable battery


Lithium metal has been regarded as the future anode material for high-energy-density rechargeable batteries due to its favorable combination of negative electrochemical potential and high theoretical capacity. However, uncontrolled lithium deposition during lithium plating/stripping results in low Coulombic efficiency and severe safety hazards. Herein, we report that nanodiamonds work as an electrolyte additive to co-deposit with lithium ions and produce dendrite-free lithium deposits. First-principles calculations indicate that lithium prefers to adsorb onto nanodiamond surfaces with a low diffusion energy barrier, leading to uniformly deposited lithium arrays. The uniform lithium deposition morphology renders enhanced electrochemical cycling performance. The nanodiamond-modified electrolyte can lead to a stable cycling of lithium | lithium symmetrical cells up to 150 and 200 h at 2.0 and 1.0 mA cm(-2), respectively. The nanodiamond co-deposition can significantly alter the lithium plating behavior, affording a promising route to suppress lithium dendrite growth in lithium metal-based batteries.Lithium metal is an ideal anode material for rechargeable batteries but suffer from the growth of lithium dendrites and low Coulombic efficiency. Here the authors show that nanodiamonds serve as an electrolyte additive to co-deposit with lithium metal and suppress the formation of dendrites.

Concepts: Electrochemistry, Battery, Electrode, Electrolysis, Rechargeable battery, Lithium-ion battery, Lithium, Nanowire battery


Our inability to accurately monitor individual neurons and their synaptic activity precludes fundamental understanding of brain function under normal and various pathological conditions. However, recent breakthroughs in micro- and nano-scale fabrication processes have advanced the development of neuro-electronic hybrid technology. Among such devices are three-dimensional and planar electrodes, offering the advantages of either high fidelity or longer-term recordings respectively. Here, we present the next generation of planar microelectrode arrays with “nano-edges” that enable long-term (≥1 month) and high fidelity recordings at a resolution 15 times higher than traditional planar electrodes. This novel technology enables better understanding of brain function and offers a tremendous opportunity towards the development of future bionic hybrids and drug discovery devices.

Concepts: Nervous system, Time, Neuron, Brain, Economics, Rechargeable battery, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Hybrid vehicle


Herein, facile synthesis of monodisperse silicon and carbon nanocomposite spheres (MSNSs) is achieved via a simple and scalable surface-protected magnesiothermic reduction with subsequent chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process. Li-ion batteries (LIBs) were fabricated to test the utility of MSNSs as an anode material. LIB anodes based on MSNSs demonstrate a high reversible capacity of 3207 mAh g(-1), superior rate performance, and excellent cycling stability. Furthermore, the performance of full cell LIBs was evaluated by using MSNS anode and a LiCoO2 cathode with practical electrode loadings. The MSNS/LiCoO2 full cell demonstrates high gravimetric energy density in the order of 850 Wh L(-1) with excellent cycling stability. This work shows a proof of concept of the use of monodisperse Si and C nanocomposite spheres toward practical lithium-ion battery applications.

Concepts: Battery, Electrolysis, Rechargeable battery, Lithium-ion battery, Lithium, Lithium battery, Nanowire battery, Silver-oxide battery


Lattice oxygen can play an intriguing role in electrochemical processes, not only maintaining structural stability, but also influencing electron and ion transport properties in high-capacity oxide cathode materials for Li-ion batteries. Here, we report the design of a gas-solid interface reaction to achieve delicate control of oxygen activity through uniformly creating oxygen vacancies without affecting structural integrity of Li-rich layered oxides. Theoretical calculations and experimental characterizations demonstrate that oxygen vacancies provide a favourable ionic diffusion environment in the bulk and significantly suppress gas release from the surface. The target material is achievable in delivering a discharge capacity as high as 301 mAh g(-1) with initial Coulombic efficiency of 93.2%. After 100 cycles, a reversible capacity of 300 mAh g(-1) still remains without any obvious decay in voltage. This study sheds light on the comprehensive design and control of oxygen activity in transition-metal-oxide systems for next-generation Li-ion batteries.

Concepts: Cathode, Oxygen, Oxide, Ion, Rechargeable battery, Lithium-ion battery, Lithium, Lithium-ion polymer battery


Power supply represents a critical challenge in the development of body-integrated electronic technologies. Although recent research establishes an impressive variety of options in energy storage (batteries and supercapacitors) and generation (triboelectric, piezoelectric, thermoelectric, and photovoltaic devices), the modest electrical performance and/or the absence of soft, biocompatible mechanical properties limit their practical use. The results presented here form the basis of soft, skin-compatible means for efficient photovoltaic generation and high-capacity storage of electrical power using dual-junction, compound semiconductor solar cells and chip-scale, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, respectively. Miniaturized components, deformable interconnects, optimized array layouts, and dual-composition elastomer substrates, superstrates, and encapsulation layers represent key features. Systematic studies of the materials and mechanics identify optimized designs, including unusual configurations that exploit a folded, multilayer construct to improve the functional density without adversely affecting the soft, stretchable characteristics. System-level examples exploit such technologies in fully wireless sensors for precision skin thermography, with capabilities in continuous data logging and local processing, validated through demonstrations on volunteer subjects in various realistic scenarios.

Concepts: Electricity, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Rechargeable battery, Capacitor, Lithium-ion battery, Solar energy, Nickel-cadmium battery


Calcium is an attractive material for the negative electrode in a rechargeable battery due to its low electronegativity (high cell voltage), double valence, earth abundance and low cost; however, the use of calcium has historically eluded researchers due to its high melting temperature, high reactivity and unfavorably high solubility in molten salts. Here we demonstrate a long-cycle-life calcium-metal-based rechargeable battery for grid-scale energy storage. By deploying a multi-cation binary electrolyte in concert with an alloyed negative electrode, calcium solubility in the electrolyte is suppressed and operating temperature is reduced. These chemical mitigation strategies also engage another element in energy storage reactions resulting in a multi-element battery. These initial results demonstrate how the synergistic effects of deploying multiple chemical mitigation strategies coupled with the relaxation of the requirement of a single itinerant ion can unlock calcium-based chemistries and produce a battery with enhanced performance.

Concepts: Cathode, Electrochemistry, Chemistry, Solid, Battery, Electrolyte, Electrode, Rechargeable battery


Materials synthesis often provides opportunities for innovation. We demonstrate a general low-temperature (260°C) molten salt electrodeposition approach to directly electroplate the important lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery cathode materials LiCoO2, LiMn2O4, and Al-doped LiCoO2. The crystallinities and electrochemical capacities of the electroplated oxides are comparable to those of the powders synthesized at much higher temperatures (700° to 1000°C). This new growth method significantly broadens the scope of battery form factors and functionalities, enabling a variety of highly desirable battery properties, including high energy, high power, and unprecedented electrode flexibility.

Concepts: Electrochemistry, Battery, Electrolyte, Electrolysis, Rechargeable battery, Lithium, Lithium battery, Electroplating


High-performance miniature power sources could enable new microelectronic systems. Here we report lithium ion microbatteries having power densities up to 7.4 mW cm(-2) μm(-1), which equals or exceeds that of the best supercapacitors, and which is 2,000 times higher than that of other microbatteries. Our key insight is that the battery microarchitecture can concurrently optimize ion and electron transport for high-power delivery, realized here as a three-dimensional bicontinuous interdigitated microelectrodes. The battery microarchitecture affords trade-offs between power and energy density that result in a high-performance power source, and which is scalable to larger areas.

Concepts: Cathode, Fundamental physics concepts, Density, Battery, Platinum, Electrolysis, Rechargeable battery, Anode


An important trend in electronics involves the development of materials, mechanical designs and manufacturing strategies that enable the use of unconventional substrates, such as polymer films, metal foils, paper sheets or rubber slabs. The last possibility is particularly challenging because the systems must accommodate not only bending but also stretching. Although several approaches are available for the electronics, a persistent difficulty is in power supplies that have similar mechanical properties, to allow their co-integration with the electronics. Here we introduce a set of materials and design concepts for a rechargeable lithium ion battery technology that exploits thin, low modulus silicone elastomers as substrates, with a segmented design in the active materials, and unusual ‘self-similar’ interconnect structures between them. The result enables reversible levels of stretchability up to 300%, while maintaining capacity densities of ~1.1 mAh cm(-2). Stretchable wireless power transmission systems provide the means to charge these types of batteries, without direct physical contact.

Concepts: Polymer, Battery, Rechargeable battery, Lithium-ion battery, Lithium, Nickel-cadmium battery, Electric power transmission, Wireless energy transfer


We report on the superior electrochemical properties, in-vivo performance and long term stability under electrical stimulation of a new electrode material fabricated from lithographically patterned glassy carbon. For a direct comparison with conventional metal electrodes, similar ultra-flexible, micro-electrocorticography (μ-ECoG) arrays with platinum (Pt) or glassy carbon (GC) electrodes were manufactured. The GC microelectrodes have more than 70% wider electrochemical window and 70% higher CTC (charge transfer capacity) than Pt microelectrodes of similar geometry. Moreover, we demonstrate that the GC microelectrodes can withstand at least 5 million pulses at 0.45 mC/cm(2) charge density with less than 7.5% impedance change, while the Pt microelectrodes delaminated after 1 million pulses. Additionally, poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene)-poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT-PSS) was selectively electrodeposited on both sets of devices to specifically reduce their impedances for smaller diameters (<60 μm). We observed that PEDOT-PSS adhered significantly better to GC than Pt, and allowed drastic reduction of electrode size while maintaining same amount of delivered current. The electrode arrays biocompatibility was demonstrated through in-vitro cell viability experiments, while acute in vivo characterization was performed in rats and showed that GC microelectrode arrays recorded somatosensory evoked potentials (SEP) with an almost twice SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) when compared to the Pt ones.

Concepts: Cathode, Electrochemistry, Electroencephalography, Electrolyte, Electrode, Electrochemical cell, Electrolysis, Rechargeable battery