Tech Insights

Research Advances Quest for Solid-State, Fast-Charging Batteries

April 16, 2024 by Jake Hertz

Recent battery research holds promise for solid-state and higher-quality rechargeable batteries.

Electric vehicles and other electronics are driving the need for reliable, faster-charging, and longer-lasting batteries. As manufacturers look for commercially viable battery solutions, academic researchers are rising to the challenge of finding innovative technology to meet growing needs. 

Recently, several research findings have pushed the state of the battery industry forward in more ways than one. The research focuses on battery structure and expands the possibilities of solid-state batteries. 

 

Battery research.

Battery research. Image used courtesy of Adobe Stock

 

Improving Cathode Structural Stability

At Argonne National Laboratory, researchers created an innovative approach to enhance the durability and charging efficiency of ultrahigh-nickel (Ni) lithium-ion battery cathodes. 

The strategy involves applying an epitaxial entropy-assisted coating to the cathodes, which combats the major surface reconstruction and strain propagation issues, leading to cathode failure during fast charging and long-term use. This coating, developed through a reaction between Wadsley-Roth phase-based oxides and the layered-oxide cathodes, significantly improves the cathodes' resistance to cracking and corrosion, enhances ionic transport, and maintains structural stability under rapid charging/discharging conditions and varying temperatures. 

 

Schematic illustrations of the entropy-assisted surface design for ultrahigh-Ni cathodes

Schematic illustrations of the entropy-assisted surface design for ultrahigh-Ni cathodes. Image used courtesy of Zhao et al.

 

Comprehensive multi-scale in situ synchrotron X-ray analyses revealed the coating's effectiveness in minimizing lattice dislocations, anisotropic strain, and oxygen release, thus promising a breakthrough in achieving high-performance lithium-ion batteries with extended lifespans and safer operation.

 

Improving Hybrid Solid-State Batteries

National Research Council of Canada researchers recently investigated rapid capacity fade in hybrid solid-state lithium metal batteries.

Focusing on a garnet-based solid electrolyte supplemented with a small quantity of liquid electrolyte, the team used advanced analytical techniques like scanning transmission X-ray microscopy, ptychography, and X-ray absorption spectroscopy. Ultimately, the research uncovered the multifaceted mechanisms behind battery performance degradation. 

 

Garnet-based solid electrolyte.

Garnet-based solid electrolyte. Image used courtesy of the authors

 

Key findings include identifying microstructural changes, oxygen vacancy formation, transition metal dissolution, and the significant impact of cathode-electrolyte interphase and solid-liquid electrolyte interphase interactions. This analysis could provide a foundation for enhancing hybrid solid-state battery designs through electrolyte and cell structure optimization.

 

Assembling Safer Lithium Metal Batteries

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research researchers reported new methods for assembling safer and more durable lithium-metal batteries (LMB).

By modifying conventional Celgard membrane separators with a graphitic fluorocarbon coating through electrophoretic deposition, researchers achieved significant improvements in battery performance. This coating enhances lithium ion transport and forms a stable solid electrolyte interface, drastically extending the battery's cyclability to over 1,000 hours and 1,500 cycles at high rates, a leap from the mere 50 cycles of unmodified batteries. According to the research team, this method is scalable and simple, making it a significant step toward developing high-energy-density LMBs.

 

High-Performance All-Solid-State-Batteries

Researchers from the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) recently described steps toward commercializing all-solid-state batteries.

The research introduces a scalable wet-chemical synthesis technique for creating sulfide superionic conductors to enhance all-solid-state battery (ASSB) performance. Focusing on sulfide-based lithium argyrodite solid electrolytes, the method involves a strategic element substitution and particle size control via nucleation rate regulation. This approach yields Li5.5PS4.5Cl1.5 solid electrolytes with impressive ionic conductivity (4.98 mS cm⁻¹) and uniform particle size (7 µm average diameter), promising for high-quality, safe, and efficient ASSBs suitable for electric vehicles. 

The research showcases significant progress toward the mass production of high-performance sulfide solid electrolytes.

 

Greater Storage for a Greater Future

The battery industry's success will influence many other application spaces. Electric vehicles, consumer electronics, and even renewable energy all hinge on developing greater energy storage solutions. Research is paving the way toward faster charging, more reliable, and more easily manufactured energy solutions, and the entire technological world is sure to benefit.