Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have uncovered a new way to increase the speed of charging electric vehicles. When the battery cathode in the electric vehicle is exposed to concentrated light, the overall charging time is reduced by at least a factor of two. This phenomenon occurs due to the interaction between light and the material of the tested cathode, lithium manganese oxide or LiMn2O4 (LMO). The manganese in the cathode absorbs photons of light, increasing its charge state from trivalent (Mn3+) to tetravalent (Mn4+), which then results in the ejection of lithium ions from the cathode faster than an unilluminated one. Now that this photonic relationship has been identified, electric vehicles charging stations can improve their performance and offer greater incentives to switch over to electric vehicles as the primary form of consumer transportation.
Artist representation of concentrated light interacting with a battery cathode for faster charging. Source: Argonne National Laboratory
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