Battery breakthrough gives boost to electric flight and long-range electric cars

Now, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, have reported in the journal Nature Materials a new class of soft, solid electrolytes — made from both polymers and ceramics — that suppress dendrites in that early nucleation stage, before they can propagate and cause the battery to fail.

These and other data confirmed predictions from a new physical model for electrodeposition of lithium metal, which takes into account both chemical and mechanical characteristics of the solid electrolytes.

“In 2017, when the conventional wisdom was that you need a hard electrolyte, we proposed that a new dendrite suppression mechanism is possible with a soft solid electrolyte,” said co-author Venkat Viswanathan, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and faculty fellow at Scott Institute for Energy Innovation at Carnegie Mellon University who led the theoretical studies for the work. “It is amazing to find a material realization of this approach with PIM composites.”