“You can take an electron off the oxygen and put it back, which is fairly radical — that’s the big idea for this cathode design.”
– Gerbrand Ceder | Materials science and engineering professor
Anyone with a cell phone, laptop computer or electric vehicle can appreciate the benefit of a lithium battery that runs longer between charges. Now, a research team led by materials science and engineering professor Gerbrand Ceder has made a discovery that may lead to higher-energy, longer-lasting lithium batteries. Scientists had long speculated about the uncertain role that oxygen plays in lithium-rich cathodes. By studying the chemistry of lithium-rich cathodes, the researchers learned how oxygen oxidation creates extra capacity in the cathodes. Their findings not only explain observations about energy transfer from previous research, but also expand the options for cathode materials, which are currently limited to three transition metals — cobalt, nickel and manganese. With this discovery, scientists will now have the option of 15 to 20 different transition metals with substantially higher energy density than current cathode materials, allowing them to design the next generation of high-performing lithium batteries.