By Harry Guinness | Published Sep 29, 2022 7:00 PM
Batteries are more crucial than ever as they propel cars, power our myriad devices, and even allow some experimental aircraft to fly. But battery technology has a long way to go before we will see a more widespread adoption of electric vehicles, months-long laptop battery lives, and longer flights on electric planes. That’s why engineers and researchers around the world are constantly looking for the next big battery innovation.
According to a paper recently published in Nature Communications, researchers from Carnegie Mellon have used a combined robotic and artificial intelligence system to design better electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries. In particular, the team was looking for electrolytes that would allow for batteries to charge faster—which is one of the biggest problems in battery technology today and a major barrier to widespread electric vehicle adoption.
Lithium-ion batteries have a cathode and an anode surrounded by an electrolyte. When they are charged, ions migrate through the electrolyte from the cathode to the anode (and vice-versa when they discharge). The exact composition of the electrolyte determines how fast a battery charges, discharges, and otherwise performs. Optimizing the electrolyte solution is thus one of the key challenges for battery designers.