We all have an idea about batteries. How these batteries work or how they are helpful to us. But these batteries are heavier in weight. This may be a problem while carrying the batteries. We also have a problem with the power of batteries. Now to solve these problems, MIT is working on more powerful and lightweight batteries.


There is a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) working on lithium-air batteries. This could help in generating more powerful and lightweight batteries than the ones available yet. According to the MIT Associate Professor of mechanical engineering Shao-Horn, there are many research groups trying to improve on lithium-air batteries. But they have a difference of opinions. Their differences are about the types of electrode material. Because whatever the reactions happen inside the batteries, the electrode materials are responsible for that.

Lithium-air batteries

Lithium-air batteries are Also known as lithium-oxygen batteries. These batteries work on the same principles as the lithium-ion batteries. These lithium-ion batteries are flooding the market. They use it in portable electronics and is a leading contender for electric vehicles. Lithium batteries have a big advantage over conventional batteries. Their main components don’t have the heavy conventional compounds. They have a carbon-based electrode. So these air batteries are quite light hence can be utilized in electronics that themselves can be much lighter. These lithium-air batteries have three times the energy density than conventional batteries. So they can easily utilize in electronic devices and hybrid cars.

How does lithium battery work?

Lithium-air batteries are electrochemically couple a lithium anode to oxygen derived from the atmosphere. Their biggest advantage is their cathode. This cathode is a carbon-based air cathode instead of heavy conventional compounds found in lithium-ion batteries. This culminates in higher energy density because the cathode is lighter and oxygen is available in the surroundings.

Metals and chemical properties

They are catching up some electrodes that have gold and platinum working as a catalyst. Gold and Platinum have a higher level of activity that naturally leads to higher efficiency. This work may open wider avenues for experimenting with other metals or metallic oxides that are cheaper than gold and platinum.

If we study the chemical properties of lithium we can learn that in metallic form. Lithium is a highly reactive material. It will react in the presence of even a tiny fraction of water. But this does not cause any safety issue, because, in current lithium batteries, carbon-based materials are used for the negative electrode. As per Shao-Horn that the same battery principle can be applied without using metallic lithium. It should lead a safer system, so for that, they can be choosing graphite or some other more stable negative electrode materials.

Doctoral student Yi-Chun Lu said

Yi-Chun Lu is a lead author of the paper. She said, that this item has devised a technique for analyzing the activity of different catalysts in the batteries. They can look into the variety of possible materials as catalysts. She says “Such research could allow us to identify the physical parameters that govern the catalyst activity. Ultimately, we will be able to predict the catalyst behaviors”.