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News Link • Inventions

High-Speed Materials Discovery

•, David H. Freedman

Electric cars could travel farther, and smart phones could have more powerful processors and better, brighter screens, thanks to batteries based on new materials being developed by San Diego–based Wildcat Discovery Technologies.

The company is accelerating the identification of valuable energy storage materials by testing thousands of substances at a time. In March of last year, it announced a lithium cobalt phosphate cathode that boosts energy density by nearly a third over current cathodes in popular lithium-ion phosphate batteries. The company also unveiled an electrolyte additive that allows batteries to work more reliably at higher voltages. 
 Choosing the optimal materials for batteries is a particularly tricky problem. The devices have three principal components: an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte. Not only can each be formed from almost any blend of a huge number of compounds, but the three components have to work well together. That leaves many millions of promising combinations to explore.

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