Self-healing in lithium and beyond-lithium batteries

From a Master thesis to a Review published on Advanced Energy Materials
Meccanismi di autoriparazione di batterie al litio

As it is well known, current lithium-ion batteries and future beyond-lithium chemistries (lithium-metal, lithium-sulfur, lithium-air) are destined to dominate the electrochemical energy storage market for the next decades. The useful life cycle and intrinsic safety of these systems, however, are severely limited by factors both of a chemical nature (unwanted reactions, degradation processes) and of a physical nature (fractures, volumetric expansions / compressions during charge / discharge cycles). To overcome these drawbacks, a growing interest in self-healing technologies and mechanisms, both autonomous and induced by external stimuli following the detection of appropriate signals, such as temperature increases, pH changes, etc. is maturing at the international level. Riccardo Ruffo and Piercarlo Mustarelli, professors at the Department of Materials Science  of the University of Milano - Bicocca, are active in this area, in collaboration with national and international research groups.

Since good research passes through a deep knowledge and an accurate critical analysis of the scientific literature, the COVID closing months were dedicated to "preparing the ground", also through remote thesis internships. Lorenzo Mezzomo's (currently a PhD student at the Department of Materials Science) Master thesis work in Materials Science resulted in a review paper entitled “Exploiting SelfHealing in Lithium Batteries: Strategies for NextGeneration Energy Storage Devices” (doi: 10.1002/aenm.202002815) that deserved publication on Advanced Energy Materials (Impact Factor 25.245 - 2019 Journal Impact Factor, Journal Citation Reports (Clarivate Analytics, 2019)), one of the most important journals in the sector. To people involved in science development, it is well known that writing a good review can be even more complex than writing an original research article. Even non-experimental thesis works, developed remotely due to the difficulties related to the pandemic, can lead to internationally recognized results if conducted with enthusiasm and scientific rigorousness.