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A nanoscale glimpse of batteries in action

Nanowerk News) Lithium–oxygen (Li–O2) batteries are a new type of experimental battery that electric car manufacturers are hoping will address the issue of limited driving range. Unlike the lithium-ion batteries used today, lithium–oxygen batteries do not require metal oxide cathodes to produce electrochemical power, instead generating power from reactions with oxygen in the atmosphere. The significant weight savings realized through this design could potentially boost energy densities of batteries by up to four times. However, lithium–oxygen batteries have yet to leave the laboratory due to short battery lifespans caused by parasitic side reactions and accumulated charge polarization at battery cathodes.
Hye Ryung Byon with colleagues Rui Wen and Misun Hong from the RIKEN Byon Initiative Research Unit have now captured never-before-seen details of lithium–oxygen reactions using in situ atomic force microscopy (AFM) as a step toward resolving these drawbacks (“In Situ AFM Imaging of Li–O2 Electrochemical Reaction on Highly Oriented Pyrolytic Graphite with Ether-Based Electrolyte”).

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