A team of researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have created a new technology that could make lithium-ion battery significantly safer.
Currently available lithium-ion batteries are fairly unstable. If they get too hot or punctured they can expand and catch fire. This is due to the current design of batteries where the opposing electrodes inside a battery are separated from one another by a thin piece of plastic. This barrier is easily breakable and does almost nothing to prevent a fire.
The new battery design by the team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory addresses this issue by adding a thin layer of liquid silica that turns into a solid after impact. Whenever an impact occurs, the silica particles join together to block the electrodes from moving around and creating a solid mass.
Gabriel Veith, one of the researchers who worked on the project, came up with the idea while his kids were playing with Oobleck, which is a mix of cornstarch and water. Oobleck is unique since it shifts from a liquid to a solid when it’s touched.
What’s particularly promising about the design is that it would be easy and cheap for electronics manufacturers to adopt.