Innovative Solid-State Electrolyte Concepts Could Transform Battery Sector

by Tatsuya Nakamura
solid-state electrolyte

Innovations in battery technology have been marked by the creation of a novel chloride-based solid electrolyte by scientists, enhancing ionic conductivity, safety, and affordability, potentially revolutionizing the battery industry and increasing its commercial appeal.

Advancements in lithium-metal-chloride solid-state electrolytes by researchers.

A team under the guidance of Professor Kang Kisuk from the Center for Nanoparticle Research at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) has revealed a significant advancement in the realm of solid-state batteries. They have identified a chloride-based solid electrolyte with outstanding ionic conductivity, a discovery that is expected to lead to the creation of more effective batteries.

The Imperative for Solid Electrolytes

The current commercial batteries, which are dependent on liquid electrolytes, present issues of flammability and potential explosion hazards. Hence, developing non-flammable solid electrolytes is crucial for the progression of solid-state battery technology. Amidst a global transition towards sustainable transport and the looming regulation of internal combustion engines in favor of electric vehicles, intensified research into vital components of secondary batteries, especially solid-state variants, is escalating.

The metal ions’ (yttrium in this instance) spatial distribution within the layers impacts the ionic conductivity. For the unimpeded transit of lithium ions, it is necessary that the metal ions’ occupancy within each layer does not exceed 0.444. In addition, the pathway for lithium ions within each layer requires that the metal ion occupancy is at least 0.167. Thus, an occupancy rate of metal ions between 0.167 and 0.444 in each layer is key to achieving a highly conductive layer. Credit: Institute for Basic Science

For solid-state batteries to be viable for regular use, the development of materials possessing high ionic conductivity, substantial chemical and electrochemical stability, and mechanical versatility is essential. Although prior research yielded sulfide and oxide-based solid electrolytes with considerable ionic conductance, they did not meet all these critical criteria.

Progress in Chloride-Based Solid Electrolytes

Historically, chloride-based solid electrolytes, recognized for their exceptional ionic conductivity, mechanical suppleness, and high-voltage stability, have been researched. These attributes led some researchers to consider them the frontrunners for solid-state battery applications. Yet, the initial enthusiasm waned as chloride batteries’ dependence on costly rare earth metals, such as yttrium, scandium, and lanthanide elements, for secondary components, was seen as impractical.

Confronting these challenges, the IBS research team scrutinized the metal ion distribution in chloride electrolytes. They hypothesized that the variation in the arrangement of metal ions could influence trigonal chloride electrolytes’ ionic conductance.

Their hypothesis was tested on lithium yttrium chloride, a prevalent lithium metal chloride compound. The placement of metal ions along the lithium ions’ path created electrostatic hindrances that obstructed their flow. On the contrary, if metal ion occupancy was minimal, the route for lithium ions became too constricted, hindering their movement.

Leveraging these findings, the team employed strategies for designing electrolytes that navigate these obstructions, culminating in the crafting of a solid electrolyte with heightened ionic conductivity. They further validated their approach by developing a lithium-metal-chloride solid-state battery with zirconium, a more affordable alternative to rare earth metal-based options, marking the first time the importance of metal ions’ placement on a material’s ionic conductivity was showcased.

The Consequence of Metal Ion Placement

This research underscores the critical yet often underestimated impact of metal ion distribution on the ionic conductivity of chloride-based solid electrolytes. It is anticipated that this breakthrough at the IBS Center will initiate the development of a range of chloride-based solid electrolytes, thereby accelerating the commercialization of solid-state batteries, signaling a future of safer, more cost-effective energy storage solutions.

The lead author, Kang Kisuk, asserts, “The chloride-based solid electrolyte we’ve uncovered is set to overcome the barriers presented by traditional sulfide and oxide-based solid electrolytes, pushing us nearer to the broad implementation of solid-state batteries.”

Reference: “Design of a trigonal halide superionic conductor by regulating cation order-disorder” by Seungju Yu, Joohyeon Noh, Byunghoon Kim, Jun-Hyuk Song, Kyungbae Oh, Jaekyun Yoo, Sunyoung Lee, Sung-O Park, Wonju Kim, Byungwook Kang, Donghyun Kil and Kisuk Kang, 2 November 2023, Science.
DOI: 10.1126/science.adg6591

The research received funding from the Institute for Basic Science.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about solid-state electrolyte

What is the significance of the new chloride-based solid electrolyte?

The newly developed chloride-based solid electrolyte is significant because it promises to enhance ionic conductivity, improve safety, and reduce the costs associated with solid-state batteries, potentially transforming the battery industry and its commercial landscape.

How does the new solid electrolyte improve battery safety?

By replacing flammable liquid electrolytes with a non-combustible solid alternative, the new electrolyte reduces the risk of fires and explosions, thus significantly improving the safety of batteries.

What makes chloride-based solid electrolytes superior to other types?

Chloride-based solid electrolytes are known for their high ionic conductivity, mechanical flexibility, and stability at high voltages, which make them strong candidates for solid-state battery applications.

Why are solid-state batteries important for electric vehicles?

Solid-state batteries are important for electric vehicles because they offer higher energy density, improved safety, and longer life spans compared to conventional batteries, which could lead to longer driving ranges and quicker charging times.

What was the role of metal ion distribution in this research?

The distribution of metal ions within the solid electrolyte was found to critically affect ionic conductivity. The research indicated that an optimal range of metal ion occupancy within the electrolyte layers is essential for maximizing conductivity.

Can you explain the metal ion occupancy rates mentioned in the study?

The study found that to maintain high ionic conductivity, the metal ion occupancy rate within the electrolyte layers should be more than 0.167 but less than 0.444. Rates within this range ensure a balance between sufficient pathway width and minimal obstruction for lithium ions.

What does the future hold for this chloride-based solid electrolyte?

The discovery of this chloride-based solid electrolyte is expected to lead to the development of a variety of chloride-based electrolytes and further the commercialization of solid-state batteries, enhancing affordability and safety in energy storage.

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Alex Smith November 5, 2023 - 2:15 pm

so we’re talking cheaper and safer batteries because of this new design, sounds good but will it actually be affordable for everyday folks like us?

Emma Brown November 5, 2023 - 3:48 pm

got to say im impressed by the research progress high ionic conductivity could be a game changer for EVs, the article mentioned something about ion distribution…gotta look more into that

Rachel Green November 5, 2023 - 5:50 pm

wasn’t sure what metal ion occupancy rates were about but it seems important for the battery’s efficiency, I think it has to do with how well the battery can hold and transfer energy?

John Doe November 6, 2023 - 12:54 am

just read about the new battery tech using chloride that’s really something right?, safety is a big deal with all these gadgets we carry

Mike Ross November 6, 2023 - 2:28 am

they mentioned zirconium as a cheaper option than rare earth metals, it’s interesting cause I heard zirconium was mainly used in jewelry before this


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