Large-storage, solid-state LIB batteries on horizon?

LEUVEN, Belgium _ Imec, a 7-nation organization of 4,000 or so university researchers in nano-electronics and digital technologies reports a breakthrough in boosting the capacity and lifespan of Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs).

Today these are ‘wet,’ i.e. they contain a liquid electrolyte to transport the Lithium ions between the battery poles. Imec has developed a solid electrolyte and a liquid nano-composite material that turns solid. These batteries promise greater energy density, a longer lifetime and faster charging. Imec aims for a 10-fold hike in conductivity levels of current LIBs.

It experiments with ‘nano-porous silica,’ a material used in the chip industry. Combining it with a lithium salt into a composite, generates faster ion conduction. “We have demonstrated nano-composite electrolytes with ion conductivity exceeding several mS/cm at room temperature,” reports Belgium-based Imec. It has hubs in the Netherlands, Taiwan, China, India, the United States and Japan.

To extend battery lifetime, Imec is developing protective coatings with dually ionic and electronic conducting properties. To increase the capacity to the order of Ah (ampere hours), Imec is developing thick (>100 micrometers) electrode structures.

Applications for Imec’s technology include traction batteries in electric cars, home and boat systems and storage for laptops and cameras.