Li metal battery, heal thyself

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Science  30 Mar 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6383, pp. 1463
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat2452

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In the 1970s, scientists first developed a promising class of rechargeable batteries in which lithium (Li) metal served as the anode and compounds that could reversibly host Li ions inside the lattice formed the cathode (1). Because Li is the lightest and most electropositive metal, this setup allows very high energy and power densities. However, repeated discharge-charge cycles cause growth of Li dendrites from the anode toward the cathode. Such dendrites can eventually penetrate the separator (placed to prevent contact between the electrodes) and touch the cathode, causing short circuiting of the cell and potentially leading to safety hazards (25). On page 1513 of this issue, Li et al. (6) show that Li dendrite growth can be suppressed by applying short, intermittent high-current pulses during battery use. These pulses lead to self-healing of the dendrites.