Japanese Scientists Unveil Game-Changing Material for Magnesium Batteries

Battery Technology Illustration

Researchers at Tohoku University have developed a new cathode material for rechargeable magnesium batteries, enabling efficient charging and discharging at low temperatures. This breakthrough, utilizing an enhanced rock-salt structure and a high-entropy strategy, overcomes previous challenges in magnesium diffusion and transport.

Scientists at Tohoku University have achieved a significant breakthrough in battery technology by creating a new cathode material for rechargeable magnesium batteries (RMBs). This material facilitates efficient charging and discharging processes, even in cold environments. By utilizing an improved rock-salt structure, this pioneering material is set to revolutionize energy storage options, making them more cost-effective, safer, and higher in capacity.

Details of the findings were published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A on March 15, 2024.

The study showcases a considerable improvement in magnesium (Mg) diffusion within a rock-salt structure, a critical advancement since the denseness of atoms in this configuration had previously impeded Mg migration. By introducing a strategic mixture of seven different metallic elements, the research team created a crystal structure abundant in stable cation vacancies, facilitating easier Mg insertion and extraction.

This represents the first utilization of rocksalt oxide as a cathode material for RMBs. The high-entropy strategy employed by the researchers allowed the cation defects to activate the rocksalt oxide cathode.

Overcoming RMB Limitations

The development also addresses a key limitation of RMBs – the difficulty of Mg transport within solid materials. Until now, high temperatures were necessary to enhance Mg mobility in conventional cathode materials, such as those with a spinel structure. However, the material unveiled by Tohoku University researchers operates efficiently at just 90°C, demonstrating a significant reduction in the required operating temperature.

Game Changing Material for Magnesium Batteries Graphic

The present material contains many metal elements as cations thanks to the effect of the high configurational entropy. Credit: Tohoku University

Tomoya Kawaguchi, a professor at Tohoku University’s Institute for Materials Research (IMR), notes the broader implications of the study. “Lithium is scarce and unevenly distributed, whereas magnesium is abundantly available, offering a more sustainable and cost-effective alternative for lithium-ion batteries. Magnesium batteries, featuring the newly developed cathode material, are poised to play a pivotal role in various applications, including grid storage, electric vehicles, and portable electronic devices, contributing to the global shift towards renewable energy and reduced carbon footprints.”

Kawaguchi collaborated with Tetsu Ichitsubo, also a professor at IMR, who states, “By harnessing the intrinsic benefits of magnesium and overcoming previous material limitations, this research paves the way for the next generation of batteries, promising significant impacts on technology, the environment, and society.”

Ultimately, the breakthrough is a major step forward in the quest for efficient, eco-friendly energy storage solutions.

Reference: “Securing cation vacancies to enable reversible Mg insertion/extraction in rocksalt oxides” by Tomoya Kawaguchi, Masaya Yasuda, Natsumi Nemoto, Kohei Shimokawa, Hongyi Li, Norihiko L. Okamoto and Tetsu Ichitsubo, 15 March 2024, Journal of Materials Chemistry A.
DOI: 10.1039/D3TA07942B

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