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Negative Electrodes Improve Safety in Lithium Cells and Batteries

Argonne National Laboratory

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Mn2Sb vs lithium cell showing excellent overall capacity and capacity retention.
Mn2Sb vs lithium cell showing excellent overall capacity and capacity retention.

Technology Marketing Summary

To help improve the stability and safety of lithium-ion batteries, Argonne researchers have developed a new intermetallic structure type that can be used for the battery’s negative electrode. 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.


Conventional lithium-ion battery configurations often contain graphite electrodes, which operate at a potential very close to that of metallic lithium and are extremely reactive. This composition can cause lithium-ion batteries to overheat, particularly if the battery is in a charged state or if it is overcharged without protective electronic circuitry. Argonne scientists have developed a new class of intermetallic materials  that can be effectively used as a negative electrode (anode) for non-aqueous lithium electrochemical cells and batteries that offer significantly higher volumetric and gravimetric capacity when compared to graphite.

The structure of these new intermetallic electrodes is represented by the formula M2M', in which M and M' consist of two or more metal elements, including silicon, and have a Cu2Sb- type structure. The M’ atoms have a configuration that is close to an ideal face-centered-cubic array of atoms and provide a host framework for the M atoms in the parent structure and for lithium atoms during the electrochemical reaction. With this innovation, Argonne researchers have enabled a new type of anode that enhances the stability and safety of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.

  • Significant increase in energy density
  • Improves safety
  • Increases reliability
  • Greater structural stability
  • Superior charge capacity


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 6,855,460
Negative electrodes for lithium cells and batteries
A negative electrode is disclosed for a non-aqueous electrochemical cell. The electrode has an intermetallic compound as its basic structural unit with the formula M.sub.2 M' in which M and M' are selected from two or more metal elements including Si, and the M.sub.2 M' structure is a Cu.sub.2 Sb-type structure. Preferably M is Cu, Mn and/or Li, and M' is Sb. Also disclosed is a non-aqueous electrochemical cell having a negative electrode of the type described, an electrolyte and a positive electrode. A plurality of cells may be arranged to form a battery.
Argonne National Laboratory 02/15/2005
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
ANL IN 01-022DevelopmentAvailable01/18/201301/18/2013

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To: Elizabeth Jordan<>