Scientists develop a new cathode coating to extend lithium-ion battery life

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energies Argonne National Laboratory have been working with Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to develop a new particle-level cathode coating for lithium-ion batteries meant to increase their life and safety. The new coating the team created is called PEDOT.PEDOT is an idea three years in the making scientists say is an incredibly exciting advancement. Researchers say that the advancement could significantly improve the experience people have with devices that rely on, such as smartphones.

The new coating also has potential use for electric vehicles and researchers point out that lithium batteries used in everything from cars to phones have been using cathode coating technology for a decade and a half. The researchers do admit that their new coating isn't without limitations.

It's only a partial coating that covers just one small part of the outside of the cathode particle and doesn't protect cathode operating at high voltage or high temperatures. The cathode charged at high voltage generates oxygen that oxidizes the electrode creating an unwanted film of the cathode leading to energy loss. The new PEDOT coating is applied using oxidative chemical vapor deposition to ensure that the company is applied to every particle of the cathode to form a robust skin.

The new coating facilitates the transport of lithium-ion electrons in and out of the cathode to boost battery energy. The team says that currently lithium-ion batteries operated 4.2 V at the cell level, but the new coating helps increase the voltage to 4.6 V. While it's only 15% difference, the team says that difference can lead to significant cost reduction of the overall battery pack. Ultimately the coating could increase the driving range for electric cars and boost the runtime for cell phones and laptops.