A team of engineers led by 94-year-old John Goodenough, professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, has developed all-solid-state battery cells that could lead to safer, faster-charging, longer-lasting rechargeable batteries for handheld mobile devices, electric cars and stationary energy storage, according to a statement from the university.

Lithium-ion batteries currently use liquid electrolytes to transport the lithium ions between the anode (the negative side of the battery) and the cathode (the positive side of the battery). If a battery cell is charged too quickly, it can cause dendrites or “metal whiskers” to form and cross through the liquid electrolytes, causing a short circuit that can lead to explosions and fires. Instead of liquid electrolytes, Dr. Goodenough working with senior research fellow Maria Helena Braga, rely on glass electrolytes that enable the use of an alkali-metal anode without the formation of dendrites.

“Cost, safety, energy density, rates of charge and discharge and cycle life are critical for battery-driven cars to be more widely adopted. We believe our discovery solves many of the problems that are inherent in today’s batteries,” Mr. Goodenough said, speaking about the technology.

Mr. Goodenough and Ms. Braga are continuing to advance their battery-related research and are working on several patents. In the short term, they hope to work with battery makers to develop and test their new materials in electric vehicles and energy storage devices.

[Image courtesy: The University of Texas at Austin]

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