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Batteries – The 3D connection

A thin film solid-state electrolyte with a three-dimensionally interconnected structure was fabricated by ORNL researchers. The structure increased conductivity through the ceramic base. Credit: Xi Chen/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have developed a thin film, highly conductive solid-state electrolyte made of a polymer and ceramic-based composite for lithium metal batteries.

The electrolyte’s novel design, which was detailed in a study, is a three-dimensional interconnected structure that can provide mechanical robustness and high lithium ionic conductivity at room temperature.

Lithium metal may potentially increase the energy density in rechargeable batteries beyond what is currently achieved by commercial lithium-ion batteries. The key to improving density lies in developing a powerful thin solid electrolyte.

Solid polymer electrolytes are flexible and low cost but have low conductivity while ceramic-based electrolytes offer better conductivity but are too brittle to process.

“We combined the advantages of both materials to form a thin composite film,” ORNL’s Xi Chen said. “The film was formed by partially sintering a three-dimensionally interconnected ceramic structure and the polymer filled the pores to make a robust membrane.”