A lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery (abbreviated as LIB) is a type of rechargeable battery. Lithium-ion batteries are commonly used for portable electronics and electric vehicles and are growing in popularity for military and aerospace applications.
The technology was largely developed by John Goodenough, Stanley Whittingham, Rachid Yazami and Akira Yoshino during the 1970s-1980s, and then commercialized by a Sony and Asahi Kasei team led by Yoshio Nishi in 1991. In October 2019, John Goodenough, Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of lithium-ion batteries.
In the batteries, lithium ions move from the negative electrode through an electrolyte to the positive electrode during discharge, and back when charging. Li-ion batteries use an intercalated lithium compound as the material at the positive electrode and typically graphite at the negative electrode. The batteries have a high energy density, no memory effect (other than LFP cells) and low self-discharge. They can however be a safety hazard since they contain a flammable electrolyte, and if damaged or incorrectly charged can lead to explosions and fires. Samsung were forced to recall Galaxy Note 7 handsets following lithium-ion fires, and there have been several incidents involving batteries on Boeing 787s.
Chemistry, performance, cost and safety characteristics vary across LIB types. Handheld electronics mostly use lithium polymer batteries (with a polymer gel as electrolyte) with lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2) as cathode material, which offers high energy density, but presents safety risks, especially when damaged. Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4), lithium ion manganese oxide battery (LiMn2O4, Li2MnO3, or LMO), and lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (LiNiMnCoO2 or NMC) offer lower energy density but longer lives and less likelihood of fire or explosion. Such batteries are widely used for electric tools, medical equipment, and other roles. NMC in particular is a leading contender for automotive applications.
Research areas for lithium-ion batteries include life extension, energy density, safety, cost reduction, and charging speed, among others. Research has been under way in the area of non-flammable electrolytes as a pathway to increased safety based on the flammability and volatility of the organic solvents used in the typical electrolyte. Strategies include aqueous lithium-ion batteries, ceramic solid electrolytes, polymer electrolytes, ionic liquids, and heavily fluorinated systems.
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