New Electrolyte for Solid-State Lithium-Ion Batteries

New Electrolyte for Solid-State Lithium-Ion Batteries 

This article explains all you need to know about New Electrolyte for Solid-State Lithium-Ion Batteries.

A new battery material may lead to all-solid batteries. 

The hunt for the perfect battery has two main objectives: design a technology that can safely store large amounts of energy. Many batteries contain flammable liquid electrolytes. 

As a result, scientists are growing interested in solid-state lithium-ion batteries, which combine enhanced safety with increased energy density. 

The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory has discovered a new solid electrolyte with several important advantages. 

This lithium, scandium, indium, and chlorine electrolyte transmits lithium ions well but not electrons. This combination is required for an all-solid-state battery to perform for over a hundred cycles at high voltage (over 4 volts) and thousands at intermediate voltage. The electrolyte’s chloride content makes it stable above 4 volts, making it ideal for today’s lithium-ion cathode materials. 

“We were happy to demonstrate robust high-voltage operation,” said Linda Nazar, Distinguished Research Professor of Chemistry at UWaterloo and long-time JCESR member. 

Solid-state electrolytes now heavily rely on sulfides, which oxidize and deteriorate at 2.5 volts. The cathode material must have an insulating layer that operates above 4 volts, limiting the ability of electrons and lithium ions to pass from the electrolyte into the cathode. 

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To keep the electrolyte from oxidizing on the cathode, Nazar says you need to electronically isolate it from the cathode material. 

While Nazar’s team wasn’t the first to develop a chloride electrolyte, their choice to replace half of the indium with scandium resulted in lower electronic and better ionic conductivity. According to Nazar, chloride electrolytes are appealing since they only deteriorate at high voltages and some are chemically compatible with our best cathodes. “We designed one with distinct advantages.” 

A spinel, a crisscrossing 3D structure, held one chemical key to ionic conductivity. This required balancing the desire to load the spinel with charge carrying ions while still leaving sites free for ion movement. As if hosting a dance, you want people to arrive, but not too many. 

Nazar says that in an ideal circumstance, half of the sites in the spinel structure would be lithium-occupied and the other half would be open, but that is difficult to design. 

Beyond the lithium’s ionic conductivity, Nazar and her team needed to ensure that electrons couldn’t easily flow through the electrolyte to cause its breakdown at high voltage. Imagine a hopscotch game, she continued. “Even if you’re only attempting to hop from one square to the next, you may create a wall that makes it tough for the electrons, in our example, to jump over.” 

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This clean contact between the cathode material and solid electrolyte helps establish a consistent performance even with huge concentrations of active material in the cathode, according to Nazar. 

“High areal capacity, extended cycle life 4 V ceramic all-solid-state Li-ion batteries enabled by chloride solid electrolytes” was published in Nature Energy on January 3.

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