Scientists successfully demonstrated a technique to heal dendrites that formed in a solid electrolyte (SE), resolving an issue that can hamper the performance high energy-density, solid-state batteries. Lithium metal anodes in batteries tend to form dendrites — tree-like metallic microstructures that can appear during charging, causing capacity loss and in some cases, a short circuit.

The scientists removed dendrites in a ceramic, garnet-based solid electrolyte using a nondestructive electrochemical pulse method. Garnet oxides are a promising material family for solid-state batteries (SSBs). The lithium metal preferentially oxidized from the dendrites at very low current density and completely disappeared. The dendrite detection and healing methods discussed here are crucial for extending the life of SSBs.

The method has the potential to rejuvenate a battery's performance and enhance its safety while it is being used, without opening the battery cell. Next, the team will test more electrolyte materials and create a scaled-up prototype battery using the new method.

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