Most people are familiar with batteries, whether they are used to charge a phone or to power the TV remote. However, delving deeper into battery science reveals a plethora of surprising ideas and innovations. Batteries, despite being a familiar technology for decades, are poised to become an important technology of the future.
All batteries contain electrochemical cells that store chemical energy that can be converted into electrical energy. Most batteries have a positively charged (anode) and a negatively charged (cathode) side (the cathode). When electrons flow through a circuit from the anode to the cathode, the battery can power other electrical elements added to the system, such as lightbulbs. This simple structure allows for probing and fine-tuning across many disciplines, which Stanford University researchers are doing.
Battery researchers hope that their advances will change the world – and our daily lives – for the better as they work to solve the mysteries of battery degradation, reveal the true environmental toll of battery production and disposal, and improve the performance of next-generation batteries.
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Performance of the battery
Have you ever had an old computer or smartphone that required frequent charging? This could be due to the device’s declining battery performance. A battery, like many other things, ages and loses capacity.
Improving current batteries based on a better understanding of why they fail is a major focus in battery research – and a cornerstone for Stanford researchers. Some of the most prominent obstacles in this field, such as the degradation of rechargeable batteries or identifying how electrodes age, could lead to significant advances in performance.
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Batteries of the future
Today’s researchers are coming up with a slew of new ideas to improve the design and structure of battery technology. Simple questions can spark these ideas: How do batteries get made? What can help them succeed more? What can a battery be used for?
And they can lead to creative solutions: Artificial intelligence battery testing; reengineering “dead weight” in lithium-ion batteries to make them safer; wirelessly charging a car as it drives
Because batteries influence so many different technologies, developing a better battery could help make current and future machines safer, smarter, and more productive.