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I understand that inside of a lithium ion battery, the ions move from the anode to the cathode internally during discharge in order to attract the electrons to move from the anode, through the wires, to the cathode. On the other hand, the ions move from the cathode to the anode internally during charge in order to attract the electrons to move from the cathode back to the anode through the wires.

However, I don't understand what causes the ions to move to the cathode during discharge, and what causes them to move to the anode during charge.

What's the driving force here that I am missing?

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  • Difference in tendency of chemical elements to gather or to give eletrons, called the reduction potential (I think those differences are not easy to explain exactly because there is much quantum mechanics involved; there are rules of thumb you may remeber from chemistry class about elements being more or less noble or unwilling to give some of their electron) together with
  • electrodynamics and
  • thermodynamics

are underlying principles involved.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Let's say that due to their natural chemical characteristics, ions are attracted to the cathode, that suits our need for the battery discharging state, but then how do ions know that they should go to the anode when it's time to do so(at battery charging state)? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kenny Lee
    Apr 10, 2018 at 8:14

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