Researchers at Harvard University have made a significant breakthrough in solid-state battery technology, according to a study published in Nature Materials. The team, based at Harvard's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), has developed a solid-state battery that can fully recharge in just 10 minutes.
The battery, which utilizes lithium metal, has an estimated charging cycle of 6,000 times, surpassing that of any other pouch battery cell currently available. This makes it a promising option for electric vehicles (EVs), as lithium metal anode batteries have ten times the capacity of commercial graphite anodes and could greatly increase the driving distance of EVs.
One of the major challenges in developing solid-state batteries is the formation of dendrites on the surface of the anode. These dendrites can penetrate the electrolyte, damaging the barrier between the anode and cathode and potentially causing short-circuits or fires. To address this issue, the research team designed a multilayer battery that sandwiches different materials of varying stabilities between the anode and cathode. While this design did not completely prevent dendrite growth, it significantly reduced their formation.
The breakthrough achieved by the Harvard team involved using micron-sized silicon particles in the anode to restrict the reaction to a shallow surface without penetrating further. This allowed the lithium metal to wrap around the silicon particles, similar to a hard chocolate shell around a hazelnut core. This design enables rapid plating and stripping on an even surface, resulting in a full recharge time of approximately 10 minutes.
Furthermore, the developed battery cell retained 80% of its capacity after 6,000 cycles, outperforming any other pouch cell battery currently on the market. The technology has been licensed to Adden Energy by the Harvard Office of Technology Development. Adden Energy, co-founded by Xin Li and three other Harvard alumni, is an offshoot of the university's research efforts. The company plans to scale up the technology for use in larger smartphone batteries.
Despite this significant advancement, there are still challenges that need to be addressed before solid-state batteries become commercially available. Mass production of such batteries presents its own set of challenges. However, the research findings mark an important step toward the development of more practical solid-state batteries, with potential applications in various industrial and commercial sectors.
In conclusion, the Harvard research team's breakthrough in solid-state battery technology could lead to faster-charging batteries for electric vehicles and other applications. The use of micron-sized silicon particles in the anode has successfully prevented dendrite formation, allowing for rapid recharging times. While there are still challenges to overcome, this research brings us closer to the realization of practical solid-state batteries with significant implications for various industries.