Most batteries operate in the same way with a liquid electrolyte conveying electrical charge as ions from one electrode to another. These electrolytes are an important factor in the performance of the batteries, along with the safety of the battery, and some researchers are working to improve them. Now researchers at ORNL have created the first nanostructured solid electrolyte for use in lithium ion batteries.
Lithium ion batteries are used in mobile devices and electric cars because they have a reasonably high energy density, and are able to charge and discharge relatively quickly. This new electrolyte though could drastically improve these properties as it can conduct ions quickly and can work with electrodes made of lithium. Using lithium for an electrode, specifically the anode, could make batteries 5 to 10 times more powerful than they are now.
The process to create the nanostructured electrolyte, which is chemically identical to lithium thiophosphate but structurally different, can be done at room temperature and is solution based. That means production of the electrolyte is not only energy efficient but should also be easily scalable to produce large quantities of the material.
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory