Lithium metal is sometimes touted as the ultimate anode material because it provides the highest voltage and energy density for a given cathode. But unless steps are taken to avoid them, lithium dendrites can accumulate on the anode and induce a short circuit that ignites a lithium-ion cell’s flammable liquid electrolyte. An international team of materials scientists led by Peking University’s Quanquan Pang and MIT’s Donald Sadoway has now developed a battery that avoids that problem entirely. Incorporating some of Earth’s most abundant materials, it’s a rapidly charging aluminum–chalcogen cell that operates with a molten-salt electrolyte.
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