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Energy Transitions Research at the University of Cambridge

New class of materials could be used to make batteries that charge faster

A study led by Drs Kent Griffith, Lauren Marbella and Professor Clare Grey (Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge) has identified new materials that could improve battery charging speeds. A group of materials have been identified that could be used to make even higher power batteries. They have used materials with a complex crystalline structure and found that lithium ions move through them at rates that far exceed those of typical electrode materials, which equates to a much faster-charging battery.

Although these materials, known as niobium tungsten oxides, do not result in higher energy densities when used under typical cycling rates, they come into their own for fast charging applications. Additionally, their physical structure and chemical behaviour give researchers a valuable insight into how a safe, super-fast charging battery could be constructed, and suggest that the solution to next-generation batteries may come from unconventional materials.

The niobium tungsten oxides used in the current work have a rigid, open structure that does not trap the inserted lithium, and have larger particle sizes than many other electrode materials. Kent Griffith speculates that the reason these materials have not received attention previously is related to their complex atomic arrangements. However, he suggests that the structural complexity and mixed-metal composition are the very reasons the materials exhibit unique transport properties.


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Click here for the Nature publication.


Image credit: Ella Maru Studio