Imec develops a breakthrough electrolyte for solid-state batteries

08/02/2018

Recently, imec announced a major breakthrough in solid-state battery technology. The research center engineered a new solid electrolyte that has an exceptionally high conductivity of up to 10 mS/cm. According to imec’s Dr. Philippe Vereecken, there is even potential to reach 100 mS/cm, paving the way for a whole new generation of batteries for applications covering the spectrum from small portable electronics to electric vehicles and stationary grid storage.

Source: imec magazine

To create optimal solutions for these applications, with a higher energy density, faster charging time, longer lifetime, and an improved safety, imec’s researchers are now looking to further improve the innovative electrolytes and integrate them with thick-layered nanoparticle electrodes with innovative functional coatings.

Since the introduction of the rechargeable Li-ion battery in 1991, it has become the technology of choice for portable energy storage. With its available high energy density, it could store enough energy in a small volume to power the surge of portable electronic devices. But more and more, Li-ion technology is also chosen as the preferred solution to drive larger systems such as electric vehicles or stationary home batteries that store renewable energy and balance the smart electricity grid. These applications, however, place new demands on the battery technology that Li-ion cannot always fulfill. 

For electric vehicles, e.g. a key consideration is to have batteries with as low a weight and volume as possible. That calls for an even higher energy density than is possible today. Also, the maximum current flow becomes more of an issue: the time to recharge critically depend on how fast energy can flow in and out of the battery. And as we consider economically critical applications such as grid storage and grid balancing, the cost and related high lifetime also become a key consideration. 

Today’s Li-ion technology has some room to improve, but not enough to sustain the future requirements for all these applications. So we need innovation: new cathode and anode architectures with higher energy densities and new electrolytes that can deliver the necessary conductivity and that are safer. 

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