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Researchers increase lifespan of lithium-sulfur batteries

Technology has advanced markedly since the dawn of the silicon age, but our portable gadgets and gizmos are still largely held back by the limitations of their power source. Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS in Dresden report progress in this regard, with the development of a new longer-lasting lithium-sulfur battery that has the potential to outperform lithium-ion batteries, at a lower cost.

Though more powerful and less expensive to produce than the more widely used lithium-ion batteries, lithium-sulfur batteries have typically sported a comparatively poor lifespan. However, the Dresden-based researchers have successfully developed a new design that increases the charge cycles of lithium-sulfur batteries by a factor of seven.

“During previous tests, the batteries scarcely crossed the 200-cycle mark,” said Dr. Holger Althues, head of the Chemical Surface Technology group at IWS. “By means of a special combination of anode and cathode material, we have now managed to extend the lifespan of lithium-sulfur button cells to 1,400 cycles.”

The anode is made from a silicon-carbon compound instead of the metallic lithium usually used, offering improved stability as a result – a key factor in the performance and lifespan of a battery. The cathode, meanwhile, is composed of elemental sulfur, and as such is cheaper to produce than the cobalt cathodes typically implemented


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