Building a better battery

The battery in your cell phone and laptop may one day hold a longer charge thanks to the work of Xinhua Liang, an assistant professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at Missouri S&T.

Liang and Rajankumar Patel, PhD ChE’16, are leading a study that uses thin-film coating and atomic layer deposition to boost lithium-ion battery performance. Their work was published in the May 4 issue of Scientific Reports.

Using atomic layer deposition, Liang coats and dopes lithium magnesium nickel oxygen (LMNO) with iron oxide at the same time. Doping means filling in the gaps in the lattice-like crystalline structure of the LMNO by adding an element or compound. Coating is simply putting ultra-thin layers of iron oxide around the whole compound.

Current research practice calls for either doping or coating, but the researchers say their work is the first to do both, and their process allows ionic iron to enter the lattice structure during the coating process. They also say the process improves the performance of lithium-ion batteries and makes them last longer.

The Missouri S&T process makes lithium-ion batteries that have 93 percent capacity retention after 1,000 cycles of charge and discharge at room temperature and 91 percent at elevated temperatures. That is equivalent to about three years of battery life with performance nearly identical to a new battery, Liang says.

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