The Physics of Better Batteries

June 23, 2018
image of lithium batteries

Harvard University researchers are using physics to solve one of the biggest challenges in designing light-weight, long-lasting batteries: how to squeeze more energy into less space. Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Department of Physics have developed a tunable, electrochemical system that can store large amounts of energy in the space between atomically thin sheets of layered two-dimensional materials, like graphene. [...]

The researchers exploited a physical effect known as van der Waals forces, which are weak bonds between molecules based on the total number of atoms and proximity rather than direct chemical interactions. Traditional techniques for improving materials (making better electrodes in lithium-ion batteries, for instance) are limited to elements and compounds that are chemically and structurally compatible, such as cobalt and nickel. But, by bonding materials with van der Waals forces, the researchers found that they could combine any two layered materials to create a new electrochemical environment in the “empty” space between the two layers, known as the van der Waals interface...

Continue reading "The physics of better batteries" by Leah Burrows, June 22, 2018. https://www.seas.harvard.edu/news/2018/06/physics-of-better-batteries.

Also read the original Letter in Nature:
D.K. Bediako, M. Rezaee, H.Yoo, D.T. Larson, S.Y. Frank Zhao, T. Taniguchi, K. Watanabe, T.L. Brower-Thomas, E. Kaxiras & P. Kim, "Heterointerface effects in the electrointercalation of van der Waals heterostructures," Nature 558 (2018). doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0205-0.