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Batteries—Polymers that bind

This illustration shows how polymers perform as a binding agent during the charging and discharging states of lithium-ion batteries. Credit: Tomonori Saito/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

A team of researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have demonstrated that designed synthetic polymers can serve as a high-performance binding material for next-generation lithium-ion batteries. Binders serve a critical role in battery performance by maintaining electrochemical balance of materials and extending battery life-span. “We demonstrated how polymers perform as a binding agent during charging and discharging of lithium-ion batteries,” ORNL’s Tomonori Saito said. The team discovered that stronger adhesion strength alone does not always improve binder performance. Rather, performance is significantly influenced by several factors working together during the battery’s operation. “Our results indicate that rational design of polymer binders is a key enabler for high-capacity anodes in next-generation batteries,” Saito said. The results, published in ACS Energy Letters, could impact batteries in future consumer electronics and electric vehicles.