Co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery led a team of engineers to create the first all-solid-state battery cells
Co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery and professor in the
Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, John Goodenough,
led a team of engineers to develop the first all-solid-state battery cells.
These cells will lead to safer, faster-charging, longer-lasting rechargeable
batteries for mobile devices, electric cars, and energy storage.
Professor John Goodenough. Image source: University of Texas at Austin.
The 94-year-old inventor’s latest breakthrough is a low-cost
all-solid state battery that’s noncombustible and has a long cycle life with a
high volumetric energy density and speedy rates of charge and discharge.
According to the team of engineers, who described the new
technology in a recent paper published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, cost, safety, energy density, rates of charge and discharge, and
cycle life are critical for battery-driven cars to be more widely adopted.
“We believe our discovery
solves many of the problems that are inherent in today’s batteries,” Goodenough
told the journal.
With the new battery cells able
to supply at least three times as much energy density as today’s lithium-ion
batteries, this technology is a game-changer. Because a battery cell’s energy
density gives an electric vehicle its driving range, this means a
higher energy density can allow a car to drive more miles between charges. The
UT Austin battery formulation also allows for a greater number of charging and
discharging cycles, which equates to longer-lasting batteries, and as a faster
rate of recharge.
Today’s lithium-ion batteries use liquid electrolytes in order
to transport the lithium ions between the anode (the negative side) and the cathode (the positive side). If a battery cell
is charged too quickly, it can cause dendrites to form and cross through the
liquid electrolytes. This causes a short circuit that can lead to explosions
and fires. Instead of liquid electrolytes, the researchers relied on glass
electrolytes to enable the use of an alkali-metal anode without the formation
The use of an alkali-metal anode (such as lithium, sodium, or
potassium) increases the energy density of a cathode and delivers a long cycle
life. In experiments, the research team’s cells demonstrated more than 1,200
cycles with low cell resistance.
Impressively, this type of battery in a car can perform well
in subzero degree weather, because the solid-glass electrolytes can operate, or
have high conductivity, at 20°C. The
engineers’ glass electrolytes also allow them to plate and strip alkali metals
on both the cathode and the anode side without dendrites, which simplifies
battery cell fabrication.
Another major advantage to
the new battery is that its cells can be made from Earth-friendly materials.
Currently, Goodenough and his team are
continuing to advance their battery-related research and are working
on several patents.