WASHINGTON – Researchers have developed a new technology that promises much safer batteries in the future in view of the increasing concerns regarding the fire risks that lithium batteries pose to aircraft passengers,.
Researchers have created a new type of lithium ion conductor that could be the basis for a whole new generation of solid-state batteries.
The conductor uses rock salt Lithium Borohydride (LiBH4) which is a well-known agent in organic chemistry laboratories. It has been considered for use in batteries before. However, until now it only worked at high temperatures or pressures.
These researchers doped a cubic lattice of KI molecules with the LiBH4. This has allowed them to stabilise the high-pressure form of Lithium borohydride and thus make a solid solution at normal atmospheric pressure. It proved to be relatively stable at room temperature.
The team made a peculiar discovery during the invention of the new technology. The Li+ ions functioned like pure Li+ ion conductors, even though they were just doping the KI lattices.
This is actually the reverse of the normal doping technique in which a small amount of stabilising element would be added to an ionic conductor abundant in Lithium.
“In other words, LiBH4 is a sort of ‘parasite’ but not a host material,” said Hitoshi Takamura who is the leader of the research at Tohoku University in Japan.
The researchers said that the “parasitic conduction” suggested that it could be broadly applied in the search for new batteries.
“This work suggests the potential of this mechanism in the ongoing search for the perfect material for use in solid state batteries,” Takamura added.
The findings have appeared in the journal APL Materials.