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Rock salt-based Li-ion conductor yields safer batteries

Posted: 22 May 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:solid-state? battery? rock salt? LiBH4? parasitic conduction?

A team of Tohoku University researchers in Japan has taken a step further in the development of solid-state batteries with a lithium ion (Li-ion) conductor that eliminates flame risks by replacing lithium salt with rock salt.

The rock salt Lithium Borohydride (LiBH4) is a well-known agent in organic chemistry laboratories that has been considered for batteries before, but up to now has only worked at high temperatures or pressures.

The researchers doped a cubic lattice of KI molecules with the LiBH4. This allowed them to stabilise the high-pressure form of LiBH4 and make a solid solution at normal atmospheric pressure that was stable at room temperature. The findings were published in the journal APL Materials.

Parasitic conduction

Synthesis of cubic LiBH4 at ambient pressure and Parasitic Conduction Mechanism exhibited in KILiBH4 solid solution. Source: Hitoshi Takamura, Tohoku University

In the process of developing the Li-ion conductor, the team made the peculiar discovery that the Li-ion 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 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 led the research at Tohoku University. He and his colleagues have called this mechanism "parasitic conduction" and have suggested that it could be broadly applied in the search for new batteriesanywhere that small amounts of Li-ion could be used to dope an oxide, sulfide, halide or nitride host material.

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