The demand for lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) continues to grow as they power a wide range of electronic devices. However, meeting consumer expectations for higher energy density, longer cycling life, faster-charging capability, and a broader operating temperature range remains a challenge. LiCoO2 (LCO) has been the primary cathode material for LIBs, but current advanced electrolytes often fall short in delivering high energy density and fast-charging performance.

A recent breakthrough by a research group led by Prof. Wu Zhongshuai from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) introduces a new “cocktail electrolyte” that addresses these limitations. This innovative electrolyte, based on a synergistic blend of multi-component additives, enables commercial LCO batteries to operate at high voltage (4.6 V) and achieve ultra-fast charging (5 C) across a wide temperature range (-20 to 45o C). Furthermore, this electrolyte demonstrates compatibility with high-Ni and Co-free cathodes, expanding its potential applications.

The key to the success of this novel electrolyte lies in its ability to create robust and kinetically favorable electrode/electrolyte interphases on both the cathode and anode. By leveraging the cooperative interactions between multiple components in the electrolyte, the researchers were able to enhance the mechanical stability and ionic conductivity of these interfaces. The presence of compounds like LiF and Li3PO4 helped prevent cathode surface degradation, suppress unwanted interfacial reactions, and accelerate reaction kinetics, ultimately leading to the development of a high-performance 4.6 V Li-ion battery.

The experiments conducted with the novel “cocktail electrolyte” (FPE) demonstrated exceptional performance metrics. The capacity retention of batteries using FPE reached an impressive 73.2% even at 5 C over 1,000 cycles. In practical pouch-type cells, the graphite||LCO battery maintained up to 72.1% capacity retention after 2,000 cycles, showcasing long-term cyclability over 3,800 cycles. Moreover, the researchers illustrated the broad applicability of FPE by successfully applying it to high-voltage Ni-rich and Co-free cathodes.

The development of this innovative electrolyte technology represents a significant advancement in the field of lithium-ion batteries. By overcoming the challenges associated with high voltage and fast-charging requirements, this research paves the way for the creation of high-energy-density and fast-charging batteries that meet the evolving needs of consumers. As Prof. Wu aptly stated, this work provides a practical strategy for optimizing lithium-ion battery performance and unlocking new possibilities in energy storage technology.


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