Newly Discovered Sodium-Ion Electrolyte Can be used in Solid-State Batteries

Newly-Discovered-Sodium-Ion-Electrolyte-Can-be-used-in-Solid-State-Batteries

Researchers discovered sodium-ion electrolyte that can be used in solid-state batteries, according to a study conducted on April 10, 2018.

A team of researchers discovered structure of a material that is sodium-based and which allows the materials to be used as an electrolyte in solid-state batteries. By using an iterative design approach, they are trying to fine-tune the material. The charged ions in a solid-state battery is transferred by electrolyte, which is one of the three main parts of a battery. An electrical current is created when the other two parts of the battery, the anode and cathode, are connected in a circuit. Lithium-based electrolyte is being used in most of the rechargeable batteries in smart-phones, computers, and other consumer electronics.

The safety issues associated with liquid electrolytes was the reason that led to the discovery of this new material, which is composed of sodium, phosphorus, tin and sulfur and has a tetragonal crystal shape. It has defects or spaces where certain sodium, tin and sulfur atoms would be and this space allows transfer of ions. The production of a sodium-ion battery would be cheaper than a lithium-ion battery, as sodium is available abundantly when compared to lithium.

Zhaoxin Yu, postdoctoral researcher in mechanical and nuclear engineering, Penn State said, “When you heat liquid electrolytes up to 150 degrees Celsius (302 degrees Fahrenheit), they will catch fire or release a lot of heat that could damage other battery or electronic components. Our material performs well up to 400 degrees Celsius (752 degrees Fahrenheit).” The specific configuration of defects within the crystal structure was one of the major discoveries made by the researchers. A new battery using sodium-ion electrolyte was created by the researchers and was tested in Wang’s laboratory, which is part of Penn State’s Battery and Energy Storage Technology Center.

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