PerspectiveMaterials Science

Using all energy in a battery

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Science  09 Jan 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6218, pp. 131-132
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa2870

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It is not easy to pull all the energy from a battery. For a battery to discharge, electrons and ions have to reach the same place in the active electrode material at the same moment. To reach the entire volume of the battery and maximize energy use, internal pathways for both electrons and ions must be low-resistance and continuous, connecting all regions of the battery electrode. Traditional batteries consist of a randomly distributed mixture of conductive phases within the active battery material. In these materials, bottlenecks and poor contacts may impede effective access to parts of the battery. On page 149 of this issue, Kirshenbaum et al. (1) explore a different approach, in which silver electronic pathways form on internal surfaces as the battery is discharged. The electronic pathways are well distributed throughout the electrode, improving battery performance.