Toward all-solid lithium batteries

    Researchers investigate mechanics of lithium sulfides, which show promise as solid electrolytes.

     

    MIT Lithium Sulfide Press Web
    Using specialized equipment, the MIT team did tests in which they used a pyramidal-tipped probe to indent the surface of a piece of the sulfide-based material. Surrounding the resulting indentation (seen at center), cracks were seen forming in the material (indicated by arrows), revealing details of its mechanical properties. Courtesy of the researchers

    Most batteries are composed of two solid, electrochemically active layers called electrodes, separated by a polymer membrane infused with a liquid or gel electrolyte. But recent research has explored the possibility of all-solid-state batteries, in which the liquid (and potentially flammable) electrolyte would be replaced by a solid electrolyte, which could enhance the batteries’ energy density and safety.

    Now, for the first time, a team at MIT has probed the mechanical properties of a sulfide-based solid electrolyte material, to determine its mechanical performance when incorporated into batteries.

    The new findings were published this week in the journal Advanced Energy Materials, in a paper by Frank McGrogan and Tushar Swamy, both MIT graduate students; Krystyn Van Vliet, the Michael (1949) and Sonja Koerner Professor of Materials Science and Engineering; Yet-Ming Chiang, the Kyocera Professor of Materials Science and Engineering; and four others including an undergraduate participant in the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) program administered by MIT’s Center for Materials Science and Engineering and its Materials Processing Center.

    “Batteries with components that are all solid are attractive options for performance and safety, but several challenges remain,” Van Vliet says.

    Read more at the MIT News Office.

    David L. Chandler | MIT News Office
    February 2, 2017

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    McGrogan Eggleton 6517 Web
    Graduate student Frank McGrogan, left, supervised the work of 2016 Summer Scholar Erica Eggleton on lithium manganese oxide [LMO] electrodes for lithium ion batteries in the Van Vliet Lab. Photo, Denis Paiste, Materials Processing Center.