Researchers design dendrite-free lithium battery

January 8, 2018 by Lisa Zyga, Phys.org feature
A thin asymmetric solid electrolyte meets both the requirements of the lithium metal (blocking dendrite formation) and cathode (enabling low interface resistance). Credit: H. Duan et al. ©2017 American Chemical Society

By designing a solid electrolyte that is rigid on one side and soft on the other, researchers have fabricated a lithium-metal battery that completely suppresses dendrite formation—a major safety hazard that can cause fires and shorten battery lifetime. This design also overcomes a tradeoff that is typically present in these batteries, by simultaneously eliminating dendrite growth and reducing the resistance at the electrode/electrolyte interface. Typical methods cannot achieve both of these goals at the same time.

The researchers, from Profs. Yu-Guo Guo and Li-Jun Wan's groups of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, have published a paper on the new in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

"We have proposed an asymmetric , which can concurrently meet the requirements of a dendrite-free anode and a low interface resistance in solid batteries," Guo told Phys.org.

As the researchers explain, the tradeoff in lithium batteries occurs because the lithium anode and the cathode have requirements that are inherently contradictory. While the anode requires a rigid electrolyte to block dendrite growth, it is difficult for a rigid electrolyte to maintain sufficient contact with the solid cathode, which creates a highly resistive cathode/electrolyte interface.

To address this problem, the researchers designed an asymmetrical solid electrolyte, in which each side has a different type of surface. The side facing the anode is a rigid ceramic material that presses against the lithium to discourage dendrite growth. On the other hand, the side facing the cathode is made of a soft polymer, which allows for a strong interfacial connection with the cathode. The entire electrolyte is also very thin, at just under 36 micrometers.

In tests, the researchers compared batteries with the new electrolyte to those with a conventional electrolyte. After 1750 hours of cycling, they found that the batteries with the conventional electrolyte exhibited rough morphologies indicative of dendrite formation, while those with the new electrolyte showed no morphological changes even after 3200 hours of cycling, indicating that dendrite growth was effectively eliminated.

Going forward, the researchers expect that the -free lithium batteries will lead to energy-storage systems that combine the high energy and power densities of with improved safety and longer lifetimes due to eliminating .

"We plan to design pouch cells with this asymmetric solid electrolyte for attaining a high energy density in solid batteries," Guo said.

Explore further: Technique to suppress dendrite growth in lithium metal batteries

More information: Hui Duan et al. "Dendrite-Free Li-Metal Battery Enabled by a Thin Asymmetric Solid Electrolyte with Engineered Layers." Journal of the American Chemical Society. DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b10864

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11 comments

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El_Nose
3 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2018
no comments on this... this is one of the biggest news items of the last six months -- and those researchers are going to get rich with the copyright
carbon_unit
5 / 5 (5) Jan 08, 2018
I think you mean patent.
There are sooooo many battery breakthrough articles that I think everyone's rather jaded. Instead of taking a few great leaps, battery technology is advancing incrementally. Yes, if this is truly what it seem to be and doesn't have serious problems that prevent manufacture, it will be huge, if only for the safety aspect.
highzone
1 / 5 (4) Jan 09, 2018
No battery breakthrough is huge, and not one will ever be, including this one, because why ?? because not even one of the thousands of breakthroughs popping up here, i say not ONE ever get's the go ahead to make it to production, big oil is frantically on a menacing anti evolutionary spree, spending all its time keeping the world numb and dumb so they can keep their monopoly on destroying the earth with their filthy oil.
FredJose
5 / 5 (3) Jan 09, 2018
@Highzone - I think in this case you are slightly over reacting. This tech WILL make it to production because there are so many other companies and industries involved that it will overpower ANY resistance that might come its way.
Shakescene21
5 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2018
@highzone - Elon Musk and Tesla have shattered the lid on battery development. The legacy automakers aren't happy about electric vehicles but they have no choice now that Tesla has shown that EVs can be cool, fast, and affordable. Nearly every automaker will have EV options across their ranges by 2021. With more EVs available, more cities will ban ICE-cars, or at least restrict them.

This will soon become an existential threat to Big Oil, and I wonder how they will react. Boone Pickens famously became a champion of wind turbines, with gas turbines to fill in during low wind.
highzone
1 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2018
i'm very sceptical, no advances since the 1000s of breakthroughs reported we still sit with the same old lithium ion/lipo batteries, a little improvement here and there over the course of 5 years but nothing to shake ground underneath my feet about, i think you should be able to understand my sceptism.... i hope you can prove me wrong in a year's time, BUT i'm not holding my breath...
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Jan 10, 2018
I think a lot of people vastly underestimate the time it takes from "worked first time in the lab" to "is being rolled out from a megafactory at thousands of units per hour"

Life is not like Hollywood movies where you go from discovery to fully formed product in a matter of minutes. The sooner you guys realize this the better.

5 years is nothing. That can be the time this research project of theirs still runs until completion alone.

THEN they have to think about patenting and getting together with an industry partner

THEN these have to make prototypes

THEN they have to optimize the process of building

THEN they have to figure out a product (and find partnerships for something like EV batteries)

THEN they have to think about building a factory, getting permits and whatnot

THEN they have to build a factory, hire people, train people, ...

THEN they have start manufacturing.

5 years? More like 15 years for any kind of realistic timeline.
mackita
5 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2018
I do agree, the mass production of cheap products is conservative by its nature. The batteries are typically produced in large quantities with high degree of automatization of production lines, which requires large investments with long return period.
carbon_unit
5 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2018
Bit pessimistic, a_a?? That sort of sounds like the worst case scenario, aka Never. :P

That's a good list, but a lot can mitigate it. For example, if a change just tweaks one element of a design, everything else can stay pretty much the same. A change to a different but similar chemistry might have a small impact on production facilities. This feels a little more involved with its solid electrolyte, and they talk of a pouch design. I guess that form factor is not uncommon. http://www.electr...c_7.html

More often, before they even get to the list, new designs suffer from "breakthrough in X and Y performance but sucks at Z or needs really costly Q" syndrome. Sometimes articles mention these problems to be overcome and other times they are all sugar with no discouraging words. I suspect that most designs just never get all parameters to the point of a practical battery that is a meaningful improvement on the state of the art.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Jan 11, 2018
Bit pessimistic, a_a?? That sort of sounds like the worst case scenario, aka Never.

Not really. When you look at any kind of pervasive tech and you look back when the actual planning/research/work on this started: You will find it was decades before.

The first lab photovoltaics were in the 1950s
The first (local) grid connected wind turbines was is the 1930s (in Russia)
The first cellphones were made in the early 1970s

...and for some of these they are only now becoming pervasive.

With new battery tech I expect a faster run-up (since it is simpler and also a drop-in replacement), but 5 years starting from a lab prototype is way, way, WAY too optimistic. There's so much more to having a product in every household/EV/what-have-you other than just having a technical solution (Not least of which: you have to overcome the resistance of the traditional manufacturers because you're about to slaughter their cash cows)
highzone
not rated yet Jan 13, 2018
(Not least of which: you have to overcome the resistance of the traditional manufacturers because you're about to slaughter their cash cows)


Kinda relates what was part of my reply in the first place.

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