These form as a battery charges and quickly degrade their capacity, so scientists are coming at them from all angles in attempts to quash them. New research out of Rice University describes yet another promising possible solution, by working a thin film of carbon nanotubes into the battery design as as way of drowning them out.
Dendrites are microscopic fibers of lithium that form on the anode of lithium-based batteries as they are charged. These become sharp needle-like structures that can pierce the battery's separator and cause it to short circuit, sometimes even resulting in the battery catching fire. One way to restrict their growth is to limit the charge rate of the battery, but with lithium-metal batteries promising much faster charging times and as much as 10 times the capacity of the lithium-ion batteries used widely today, scientists are keen to address the problem.