New research may be pushing these super batteries closer to reality. Recently, a team led by Harvard University materials scientist Xin Li designed a solid state lithium metal battery cell that uses several different layers of materials in the electrode to arrest lithium dendrite growth. In the journal Nature, the team described a prototype battery that could be charged in just three minutes, while retaining more than 80 percent of its capacity after 10,000 cycles. (Typical EV batteries degrade by a similar amount after 1,000 to 2,000 cycles.)
The research is still at an early stage. The team needs to demonstrate that the battery, currently the size of a coin, can be scaled up and mass-produced for automobiles.
Li says that a commercial version of this battery may be possible in about five years “if everything goes right.”
If the advantages of lithium metal can be harnessed, says Venkat Viswanathan, an engineer at Carnegie Mellon University whose lab also develops next-generation batteries,“a lot of the assumptions that you have made in terms of fast charging actually go out the window.”