Research that looks into the science behind the formation of “dendrites” that cause lithium-ion batteries to fail could lead to safer, and longer-lasting batteries that can be charged within minutes, instead of hours.

The dendrites form on anode electrodes and may continue to grow until it causes an internal short circuit, resulting in battery failure and possible fire, Emil Venere writes in a release on the Purdue University website. Findings were reported in a research paper, the Journal of Power Sources.

The findings show how groups of dendrites form, evolve and interact with each other. The simulations in the research also show how dendrites detach from the battery electrodes and become floating deposits a potentially dangerous scenario that can cause a battery to catch fire.

Researchers have also developed a modeling tool to improve the design of separators. They modeled how pore size and morphology of the separator influence dendrite development.

"We found relationships between the geometry of the separator and its performance," one researcher says. "We think it's the first step to improve the separator."

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