Texas Researchers Develop Aluminium Anode Material that May Lead to Cheaper, Smaller Lithium-Ion Batteries


Researchers at the The University of Texas at Austin have developed a new tin-aluminium anode that they say will soon make batteries cheaper, smaller, and lighter.

Scientists at UT’s Cockrell School of Engineering say the material, which they have christened the Interdigitated Eutectic Alloy (IdEA) anode, can be used in batteries of any size. The material is quick and easy to make as well, as it uses a two-step process in contrast to the multiple steps used to produce conventional anodes for lithium-ion batteries.

In addition, anodes created from IdEA are one-fourth as thick as conventional anodes and only half as heavy, likely yielding smaller, lighter batteries should the new material catch on.

Team leader, professor, and director of the Texas Materials Institute Arumugam Manthiram said that the likelihood that the material will be commercially successful seems strong.

“It is exciting to have developed an inexpensive, scalable process for making electrode nanomaterials. Our results show that the material succeeds very well on the performance metrics needed to make a commercially viable advance in lithium-ion batteries.”

The UT team differed in its approach to developing the new anode. In previous attempts researchers built new nanomaterials one atom at a time. According to team member and postdoctoral fellow Karl Kreder, the effort in question developed the new class of anode materials by mechanically rolling the eutectic metal alloys into nanostructured metal foils.

“The eutectic microstructure forms naturally because of thermodynamics. Then, you can reduce the microstructure by rolling it, which is an extraordinarily cheap step to convert a microstructure into a nanostructure.”

As a result, the anodes developed in such a process are significantly smaller, making commercialization of batteries that incorporate the technology significantly easier. These smaller batteries could find their way into a myriad of applications, including medical devices, electronics, and even electric vehicles.

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