There is an ever-growing demand for rechargeable batteries with reversible and efficient electrochemical energy storage and conversion. Rechargeable batteries cover applications in many fields, which include portable electronic consumer devices, electric vehicles, and large-scale electricity storage in smart or intelligent grids. The performance of rechargeable batteries depends essentially on the thermodynamics and kinetics of the electrochemical reactions involved in the components (i.e., the anode, cathode, electrolyte, and separator) of the cells. During the past decade, extensive efforts have been dedicated to developing advanced batteries with large capacity, high energy and power density, high safety, long cycle life, fast response, and low cost. Here, recent progress in functional materials applied in the currently prevailing rechargeable lithium-ion, nickel-metal hydride, lead acid, vanadium redox flow, and sodium-sulfur batteries is reviewed. The focus is on research activities toward the ionic, atomic, or molecular diffusion and transport; electron transfer; surface/interface structure optimization; the regulation of the electrochemical reactions; and the key materials and devices for rechargeable batteries.
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