New Battery Coating Could Improve Smart Phones, Electric Vehicles

Illustrations of the design principles of using methyl viologen to form a stable coating to allow the stable cycling of lithium metal.

Illustrations of the design principles of using methyl viologen to form a stable coating to allow the stable cycling of lithium metal.

Lithium metal anodes will enable many battery technologies, including lithium metal and lithium air, which can potentially increase the capacity of today’s best lithium-ion batteries five to 10 times.

The problem with lithium ion batteries made with metal is that during charge cycles they uncontrollably grow dendrites, which are microscopic fibers that look like tree sprouts. The dendrites degrade the performance of the battery and also present a safety issue because they can short circuit the battery and in some cases catch fire.

A team of researchers at UCR has made a significant advancement in solving the more than 40-year-old dendrite problem. Their findings were just published in the journal Chemistry of Materials.

The team discovered that by coating the battery with an organic compound called methyl viologen they are able to stabilize battery performance, eliminate dendrite growth and increase the lifetime of the battery by more than three times compared to the current standard electrolyte used with lithium metal anodes.

“This has the potential to change the future,” said Chao Wang, adjunct assistant professor of chemistry who is the lead author of the paper. “It is low cost, easily manipulated and compatible with the current lithium ion battery industry.”

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Barley Genome Sequenced

Research could lead to better beer, single malt Scotch whiskey and provide tool for scientists to better understand other crops, including rice and wheat.

A team of researchers at UC Riverside are among a group of 77 scientists worldwide who have sequenced the complete genome of barley, a key ingredient in beer and single malt Scotch. The research, 10 years in the making, was just published in the journal Nature.

“This takes the level of completeness of the barley genome up a huge notch,” said Timothy Close, professor of genetics. “It makes it much easier for researchers working with barley to be focused on attainable objectives, ranging from new variety development through breeding to mechanistic studies of genes.”

The research will also aid scientists working with other “cereal crops,” including rice, wheat, rye, maize, millet, sorghum, oats and even turfgrass, which like the other food crops, is in the grass family, Close said.

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