The surprising strength of liquid crystals

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have found that liquid crystals can be used as electrolytes with lithium metal anodes in batteries to suppress dendrite growth. Liquid crystals represent a new class of materials that have properties that are different from conventional liquids and solids. The dendrite suppression happens due to the tendency of liquid crystal molecules to line up in an ordered arrangement.

In findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research team proposed various design criteria for selecting liquid crystals as battery electrolytes that can enable well-functioning lithium metal batteries.

“This comprehensive set of molecular level design rules will pave the way towards the realization of this new class of electrolytes for practical lithium metal batteries,” said Venkat Viswanathan, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon.

“Batteries with increased energy density are critical to enable mass electrification of transportation.