Manganese’s novel chemical state could create more efficient batteries reports that new research published in Nature Communications reveals that manganese has a novel chemical state. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, this new state enables a high-performance, low-cost sodium-ion battery that could quickly and efficiently store and distribute energy produced by solar panels and wind turbines across the electrical grid.

The idea of the existence of this state was first proposed almost a century ago, but it was only in 2018 when scientists were able to prove it. They used a specially-designed battery to test their hypothesis. Researchers tested whether a 1928 theory is possible that manganese could exist in a so-called “1-plus” or “monovalent” state, which means that a manganese atom in this state loses only a single electron. The idea is unusual, as manganese atoms typically are known to give up two or more electrons, or no electrons, in chemical reactions, but not just one.

Different from what it’s seen in lithium-ion and sodium-ion batteries, where the anode is often carbon-based, the anode in this experiment is made up of a blend of elements such as manganese, carbon and nitrogen. The cathode, on the other hand, contains copper, nitrogen, carbon, and iron. These materials based on transition metals have the capability exhibiting various charged states.