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New lithium battery design charges up

3:23pm, November 15, 2004

From Boston, at the fall meeting of the Materials Research Society.

Millions of laptops and cell phones get their power from rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.

With all that power in a small, lightweight package, such batteries might also run the cars of the future. Yet current batteries require expensive control circuitry to prevent their highly reactive components from causing fires or explosions. Since larger batteries would contain more of this reactive material, they'd pose even greater risk.

Many research groups are trying to improve the safety and power of lithium-ion batteries by changing the batteries' internal conductive fluids, or electrolytes, and electrodes (SN: 2/12/00, p. 103: Stopping batteries from starting fires). Now, one team has come up with a new family of materials for the battery's negative electrode.

Conventional anodes are made of graphite, or sheets of carbon. Lithium ions pass in and out between

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