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Copper-tin Electrodes Improve Capacity and Cycle Life for Lithium Batteries

Argonne National Laboratory

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TEM and XRD of a Copper-Tin Material Used in Li Batteries (left), and cycling performance (right)<br />
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TEM and XRD of a Copper-Tin Material Used in Li Batteries (left), and cycling performance (right)

Technology Marketing Summary

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have become the battery of choice for everything from cell phones to electric cars, but there is still much room for improvement. Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory are leading efforts to revolutionize battery technology with the design and development of new battery materials for electrolytes, electrodes, and interfaces that will increase the specific energy of advanced batteries, while simultaneously providing enhanced stability at a lower cost. To help improve the stability, safety and capacity of lithium-ion batteries, Argonne researchers have developed a new type of intermetallic electrode based on the copper-tin compound (Cu6Sn5).


A major drawback of copper-tin electrodes is that they lose capacity when cycled. By modifying the electrode composition to Cu6-xMxSn5 (in which M is one or metals), Argonne researchers were able to control the voltage of the cell to improve capacity. The Argonne-developed electrodes can also contain additional components to control porosity and electric current collection or to suppress grain growth in the electrode during electrochemical operation. With such modifications to copper-tin electrodes, the battery’s operating condition can be manipulated to improve both capacity and cycle life. These electrodes also improve on the safety and stability of the graphite electrodes typically found in conventional lithium-ion battery configurations.

  • Improves charge capacity
  • Improves battery life
  • Improves safety
  • Increases reliability
  • Greater structural stability
Applications and Industries
  • Transportation applications, such as electric and hybrid-electric vehicles
  • Portable electronic devices, such as cell phones and laptop computers
  • Medical devices
  • Space, aeronautical, and defense-related devices
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 6,730,429
Intermetallic negative electrodes for non-aqueous lithium cells and batteries
A method of operating an electrochemical cell is disclosed. The cell has an intermetallic negative electrode of Cu.sub.6-x M.sub.x Sn.sub.5, wherein x is .ltoreq.3 and M is one or more metals including Si and a positive electrode containing Li in which Li is shuttled between the positive electrode and the negative electrode during charge and discharge to form a lithiated intermetallic negative electrode during charge. The voltage of the electrochemical cell is controlled during the charge portion of the charge-discharge cycles so that the potential of the lithiated intermetallic negative electrode in the fully charged electrochemical cell is less than 0.2 V but greater than 0 V versus metallic lithium.
Argonne National Laboratory 05/04/2004
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
ANL IN-00-105PrototypeAvailable07/01/201307/01/2013

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To: Elizabeth Jordan<>