Stanford postdoctoral researcher Chao Wang holds a container of the self-healing polymer
A prototype lithium-ion battery, that incorporates the polymer
An electron micrograph shows cracks left in the polymer (left), the smaller of which healed within five hours
In their continuing efforts to increase the energy density of lithium-ion batteries, scientists have began looking at alternative materials for those batteries' electrodes – materials such as silicon. The problem is, electrodes swell and shrink as they absorb and release lithium ions, causing them to break down over time. This is particularly true of silicon, which is brittle by nature. Now, however, scientists have developed a conductive elastic polymer coating for those electrodes, that heals its own cracks after each use.
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