Skip to main content

Polymers — Better battery electrolytes

New polymer materials under development at Oak Ridge National Laboratory could enable safer, more stable batteries needed for electric vehicles and grid energy storage.

Polymers are promising electrolytes for solid-state lithium batteries for their low cost, flexibility and processability, but performance needs to be improved.

“Typically, you can increase flexibility to enhance conductivity, but you sacrifice strength. Our approach bypasses this trade-off by adding flexibility selectively in ion-conducting blocks,” said ORNL’s Guang Yang.

The team designed a block copolymer that sandwiches a conductive core between rigid outer layers that protect the “filling.” The use-inspired design is nanoengineered to block dendrites, lithium growths that could pierce electrolytes and damage batteries.

Results were published in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society’s issue that honored John Goodenough, inventor of the lithium-ion battery.

“Discoveries like this can lead to robust lithium metal batteries that can help us meet clean energy goals,” said ORNL’s Jagjit Nanda.