MIT Energy Initiative

Theory of ultrafast li-ion battery materials

Explaining why lithium iron phosphate works so well as a material for rechargeable batteries

Martin Bazant and Daniel Cogswell, from Revealing how a battery material works, Energy Futures Spring 2012Credit: Stuart Darsch

Usually, if you’re doing something faster, you do more damage, but in this case it’s the opposite.

Martin Bazant, professor

Since its discovery, lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) has become one of the most promising materials for rechargeable batteries because of its stability, durability, safety, and ability to deliver a lot of energy at once. It has been the focus of major research projects around the world and is a leading technology used in everything from power tools to electric vehicles. Despite this widespread interest, the reasons for LiFePO4 ’s unusual charging and discharging characteristics have remained unclear. Now, research by MIT associate professor of chemical engineering and mathematics Martin Bazant and postdoctoral associate of chemical engineering Daniel Cogswell has provided surprising new results showing that the material behaves quite differently than had been thought, helping to explain its performance and possibly opening the door to the discovery of even more effective battery materials.

Research Team

Daniel Cogswell Chemical Engineering

This research was supported in part by the MIT Energy Initiative Seed Fund