Researchers at the University of Illinois, Xerion Advanced Battery Corporation and Nanjing University in China have developed have developed a method for electroplating lithium-ion battery cathodes, yielding high-quality, high-performance battery materials that could also open the door to flexible and solid-state batteries.
Currently, lithium-ion battery cathodes use lithium-containing powders mixed with binders and other additives into a slurry, which is spread on a thin sheet of aluminum foil and dried. The binders inhibit the flow of electricity and the slurry layer needs to be thin which limits how much energy they can store.
In the new process, the powder and binders are omitted and lithium materials are directly electroplated the onto the aluminum foil.
Because the electroplated cathode doesn’t have any binder, it stores 30% more energy than a conventional cathode and can charge and discharge faster because there is no binder inhibiting the flow of electricity.
The electroplating process itself purifies the cathode materials. This means that manufacturers can use lower cost and quality raw materials and the end product will still be high in performance.