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Record efficiency for lithium-oxygen batteries

Image: The cover art depicts platinum-gold nano particles on carbon supports and their activity as a bifunctional electrocatalyst that can enhance the kinetics of the oxygen reduction and evolution reactions in rechargeable lithium-air batteries.

Lithium-air batteries have the potential to reach over 3-fold greater energy density than lithium-ion batteries in fully-packed cells. Critical challenges that limit the practical use of this technology include the sluggish oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) (during discharge) and oxygen evolution reaction (OER) kinetics (during charging) in Li+-containing electrolytes leading to low round-trip efficiency. Therefore, it is vital to develop an effective electrocatalyst to catalyze both reduction and oxidation reactions, namely a bifunctional electrocatalyst. With rational design and a new synthesis approach, Shao-Horn and Hamad-Schifferli have combined gold and platinum onto the surfaces of individual nano particles and examined the ORR and OER activity of such particles supported on carbon in Li-O2 batteries as shown in the cover art. They demonstrated that these nano particles exhibit bifunctional catalytic activity. As a result, they were able to demonstrate the lowest charging voltage and highest round-trip efficiency of Li-O2 batteries reported to date.

Y.C. Lu, Z. Xu, H. G., S. Chen, K. Hamad-Schifferli, and Y. Shao-Horn, Platinum-gold nano particles: A highly active bifunctional electrocatalyst for rechargeable lithium-air batteries,  Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol. 132, Issue 35, pp. 12170-12171 (2010).

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