Despite considerable efforts to stabilize lithium metal anode structures and prevent dendrite formation, achieving long cycling life in high-energy batteries under realistic conditions remains extremely difficult due to a combination of complex failure modes that involve accelerated anode degradation and the depletion of electrolyte and lithium metal. Researchers report a self-smoothing lithium–carbon anode structure based on mesoporous carbon nanofibres, which, coupled with a lithium nickel–manganese–cobalt oxide cathode with a high nickel content, can lead to a cell-level energy density of 350–380 Wh per kg (counting all the active and inactive components) and a stable cycling life up to 200 cycles. These performances are achieved under the realistic conditions required for practical high-energy rechargeable lithium metal batteries: cathode loading over 4.0 mAh per cm^2, negative to positive electrode capacity ratio less than 2 and electrolyte weight to cathode capacity ratio less than 3 g per Ah. The high stability of our anode is due to the amine functionalization and the mesoporous carbon structures that favour smooth lithium deposition.
Nature Nanotechnology – Self-smoothing anode for achieving high-energy lithium metal batteries under realistic conditions