Researchers have finally worked out how to utilize rock salt Lithium Borohydride (LiBH4) as a battery material at normal atmospheric pressure and room temperature, according to recent reports. Specifically, they’ve discovered how to use the well-known material as lithium ion conductor.
The advance — which could lead to a whole new generation of effective solid-state batteries — was achieved by researchers from Tohoku University in Japan. Solid-state batteries don’t pose nearly the same fire risk that those containing liquids do. Previously LiBH4 had only worked at high temperatures and pressures.
The achievement was made via the doping of a cubic lattice of KI molecules with the LiBH4 — allowing for the stabilization of the high-pressure form of Lithium borohydride. This resulted in the creation of a solid solution at normal atmospheric pressure that was stable at room temperature.
The press release provides more:
In making the new technology, the team made the peculiar discovery that the Li+ ions functioned like pure Li+ ion conductors, even though they were just doping the KI lattices. This is the reverse of the normal doping technique, in which a small amount of stabilizing 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,” explained lead researcher Hitoshi Takamura. “(We’ve termed) this mechanism ‘parasitic conduction’ and have suggested that it could be broadly applied in the search for new batteries — anywhere that small amounts of Li+ ions could be used to dope an oxide, sulfide, halide or nitride host material.”
“This work suggests the potential of this mechanism in the ongoing search for the perfect material for use in solid state batteries,” Takamura continued. “The urgency of this quest has been abundantly clear after the grounding of so many aircraft in recent months.”
The new findings have been detailed in a paper just published in the journal APL Materials.
On the ever-present topic of advancing battery technology (or perhaps that’s just the pitch?), we just recently covered a related and interesting development. University of California–Riverside researchers have created of a new type of battery anode with 3 times the storage capacity of the carbon-based anodes currently in wide-use. The “hook” of the story is that it’s made out of “silly putty.” You know, that stuff that kids in the 80s and 90s used to play with — before iPads. 🙂
Battery research moves on.
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