Lithium-ion battery

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A lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode through an electrolyte to the positive electrode during discharge, and back when charging. Li-ion batteries use an intercalated lithium compound as the material at the positive electrode and typically graphite at the negative electrode.

Li-ion batteries have a high energy density, no memory effect[1] and low self-discharge. Cells can be manufactured to either prioritize energy or power density.[2] They can however be a safety hazard since they contain flammable electrolytes, and if damaged or incorrectly charged can lead to explosions and fires. Samsung was forced to recall Galaxy Note 7 handsets following lithium-ion fires, and there have been several incidents involving batteries on Boeing 787s.


The lithium battery was proposed by British chemist M. Stanley Whittingham. Whittingham started on the research that led to his breakthrough at Stanford University. Early in the 1970s, he discovered how to store lithium ions within the layers of a disulfide material. After getting hired by Exxon, he improved on this innovation.[3]

Batteries with metallic lithium electrodes presented safety issues, as lithium metal reacts with water, releasing flammable hydrogen gas.[4] Consequently, research moved to develop batteries in which, instead of metallic lithium, only lithium compounds are present, being capable of accepting and releasing lithium ions.


Generally, the negative electrode of a conventional lithium-ion cell is made from carbon. The positive electrode is typically a metal oxide. The electrolyte is a lithium salt in an organic solvent. The electrochemical roles of the electrodes reverse between anode and cathode, depending on the direction of current flow through the cell.

The most common commercially used anode is graphite, which in its fully lithiated state of LiC6 correlates to a maximal capacity of 372 mAh/g.[5] The positive electrode is generally one of three materials: a layered oxide, a polyanion or a spinel. Recently, graphene-containing electrodes (based on 2D and 3D structures of graphene) have also been used as components of electrodes for lithium batteries.


Because lithium-ion batteries can have a variety of positive and negative electrode materials, the energy density and voltage vary accordingly. The open-circuit voltage is higher than in aqueous batteries. Internal resistance increases with both cycling and age.[6] Rising internal resistance causes the voltage at the terminals to drop under load, which reduces the maximum current draw. Eventually, increasing resistance will leave the battery in a state such that it can no longer support the normal discharge currents requested of it without unacceptable voltage drop or overheating.


The life of a lithium-ion battery is typically defined as the number of full charge-discharge cycles to reach a failure threshold in terms of capacity loss or impedance rise. Manufacturers' datasheet typically uses the word "cycle life" to specify lifespan in terms of the number of cycles to reach 80% of the rated battery capacity. Inactive storage of these batteries also reduces their capacity.[7] Calendar life is used to represent the whole life cycle of battery involving both the cycle and inactive storage operations. Battery cycle life is affected by many different stress factors including temperature, discharge current, charge current, and state of charge ranges.


  1. Memory effect now also found in lithium-ion batteries
  2. Design Strategies for High Power vs. High Energy Lithium Ion Cells
  3. Electrical Energy Storage and Intercalation Chemistry
  4. BSLBATT LiFePO4 Batteries for Material Handling Industry
  5. Polymer-Derived SiOC Integrated As a Highly Stable Li-Ion Battery
  6. GR-3150 - Secondary Non-Aqueous Lithium Battery | Telcordia
  7. Cycle-life model for graphite-LiFePO4 cells - ScienceDirect