Solid State Battery from the Man Who Brought Us Lithium Ion

Who is [John Goodenough]? He’s 94, so he’s been around long enough that you ought to know him. He was one of the co-inventors of the lithium-ion battery. Think about how much that battery has changed electronics. [Goodenough] along with [Maria Helena Braga] may have come up with that battery’s successor: the solid state battery. There’s a paper available that is free, but requires registration. If you don’t want to register, you can read the news release from the University of Texas with no trouble.

Keywords used to describe the new battery are low-cost, noncombustible, long cycle life, high energy density, and fast charge and discharge rates. The pair is also claiming three times the energy density of a current lithium-ion battery. They also claim that the batteries recharge in minutes instead of hours. You can see a video from [Transport Evolved] that discusses the invention, below.

The battery relies on solid glass electrolyte. It also employs an alkali metal anode to realize increased energy density of the cathode. The electrolyte can operate down to -20 degrees C, which is unusual for a solid state battery.

We see a lot of stories about the next big breakthrough in batteries including some that are definitely suspect. Even the ones that seem legitimate, seem to make a big splash and then don’t always wind up in the marketplace. However, we would probably have thought that about the lithium-ion cell, too, and look where that wound up. If this battery lives up to its promise it could be a real game-changer for lots of electronic equipment.

91 thoughts on “Solid State Battery from the Man Who Brought Us Lithium Ion

    1. why would he kill it when he can put them in his cars to make them drive farther and in his powerwalls to make them last longer? this could only make him more money, if he can license it. The question is who will buy it and secure exclusivity first. Here’s hoping John’s enough of an idealist to refuse exclusivity.

      1. Because he’s just built a massive factory that makes the older kind of batteries – on money raised from investors who are expecting a return of interest – which is going to come crashing down once the new type of battery hits the market.

        Whether Goodenough is an philantrophist or not, retooling the entire thing to make the new kind of batteries will cost him a pretty penny and possibly banckrupt the venture, so if Elon Musk is anything like every other business magnate ever, he will try to hold back competition for as long as he can to make the returns.

        1. The gigafactory is designed to be modular. Who knows how long it will take for this new technology to be production ready. The older tech is still fine until the new can be used more widely. And when that happens they can just modify the older factory to their needs.

        2. I would be extremely surprised if, given the money invested in Gigafactory, it relied on battery tech remaining static for even 10 years. If you’re going to invest that much money in commercializing innovative markets, it would be a pretty insane failure to not recognize innovation and account for it. So, I doubt that will happen.

    2. If I recall the interview correctly from a decade ago, he founded Tesla motors anticipating a better battery would be invented eventually to bring the company cost/performance to par with existing cars.

      Even if this battery is hypothetically more costly, the energy density and charge cycle limit will determine its actual value as a consumer product. If it is significantly lower cost per W/h, than many traditional auto manufactures will have to seriously reconsider their design policies.

      New battery tech news is hyped so often, I think I’ll wait for some physical samples before getting too excited.

          1. A liter is a cubic decimeter (dm^3) so .10 x .10 x .10 m. And while you’re right m^3 makes more sense for the metric system, it also means you’d buy 0.001 m^3 of milk at the supermarket. Liters are handy because you have easy to use numbers for quantities you use in daily life.

            QED: liters make sense for normal people in daily life.

      1. This battery is actually cheaper, actually this battery is designed to ensure that the commercial application will make more sense for heavy-duty usage such as in cars and stationary storage systems

  1. The actual researcher is actually someone from Portugal named Maria. But by some odd convention they give credit to Goodenough first and foremost because he’s her professor.

      1. But Goodenough is pictured.

        From everything I’ve read it was Braga that created the concept and the University of Texas (and Goodenough) that provided the resources to make it a reality.

  2. The gist of the innovation was lost in this article and by the cheese face on youtube.

    The LiSICON electrolyte battery has been done many times before and is no innovation by any of those mentioned. What they have done is combine their lithium glass (of which they never mention the composition of) with the cathode (sulfur/super P carbon black). Also adding a copper current collector to the cathode which allows a much higher potential voltage using an alkali metal anode than previously reported around 2.2v. If the cell voltage stays above 2.35 volts the lithium will plate out on the cathode current collector(copper in this case), reducing the mass needed for the cathode/catholyte. This means the active material on the cathode does not have to be matched to the mass of lithium as it serves as simply redox center for the lithium reversible plating on discharge/charge to and from the cathode.

    This is significant as it describes a battery that can plate metallic lithium out on the cathode and anode for each charge discharge operation. The potential voltage can also be higher for metallic alkali anode batteries allowing for more energy density.

    TLDR: The innovation is a lithium anode/cathode plating battery not a lithium glass electrolyte.

  3. Good.. and bad, unfortunately the military and ‘intelligence’ community and police have many ways to misuse batteries now, and increasing its capabilities is not going to be without some very heavy cost for the life and freedom of many – if not most all.
    Drones alone are example enough.

    But I expect it’s all inevitable and I just hope that the incompetence and disorganization and corruption of humans controlling all these activities will help us all keep at least a bit in the clear.

          1. You are just dismissing yourself from being taken serious when you make such obviously silly remarks. Even the most positive thinking or most superficial person can readily see there are some disadvantages/risks.

    1. Seriously? The “military and ‘intelligence’ community and police” have ways to misuse any technology. Radio, computers, electronics, air, ground and sea transportation, etc, etc. Should we sit and worry about what the “military and ‘intelligence’ community and police” do with technology or work to use technology for the benefit of everyone.

      1. Historically, technological advances once used to be “great equalizers”, giving chance to weaker against stronger, few against many, etc.

        However, with improved perception of the importance and power of knowledge, those who keep monopoly of might are usually (unless the researchers and inventors are paranoid and explicitly avoiding them) first on the source of anything potentially game-changing, and they have means to suppress or postpone dissemination of any disruptive knowledge into general population, in order to have element of surprise on their side, so that potential targets or opponents wouldn’t adjust their behaviour to evade new tactics.

        So, anyone worrying about Big Brother getting new powers … is probably too late to it, the Big Brother probably already has been having them. Therefore, when doing assessment under your tinfoil hat of where one stands visa vu governmental agencies and corporate overlords, one should take into account not state of the art, but theoretical hard physical limits.

        1. For sure there are areas where that applies, but also areas where it does not, sometimes things are invented in the civilian sphere first and then only later used for less savory purposes.
          And we pretty much can have an inkling on what the military does when for instance their technology (often made by private contractors mind you) is observed and you would notice a leap in capabilities like battery power or size. Although obviously there is a lot of stuff in satellites and such that is kept secret and probably kept away from normal industry.

    2. most if not all of the large militarized drones i know of run on fossil fuel and not batteries, i know there are quite a few scouting models that are electric.
      the globalhawk is for all intents and purposes a proper plane running on a full size jet engine.

      this might of course change that.

      1. Yep, even the little ScanEagles use a gas engine with a repurposed brushless dc motor on the prop shaft to charge the batteries the UAV runs on. Gasoline (or heavy fuel) is hard to beat.

      2. The exact reason they all run on fuel is because of the limits. Have you seen those USAF drone-swarm deployment tests though? Those are small and electric AFAIK. But yeah the predator-type ones will likely remain fuel-based. And it’s not just drones, many things are electric, for instance shoulder fired anti aircraft missiles, and more of such things. And how about that sniper rifle that has a automatic compensation so ordinary people can have pinpoint accuracy? All such things use electrical power. Another thing that springs to mind is night vision and other vision enhancement stuff. And of course if there were super efficient quick charge batteries for a low price there would be a slew of possibilities in assisted weapons and robotics and ‘intelligent mines’ and things like that.

    3. I read this as: The military short out the batteries to thermal-runaway conditions and throw them as grenades.

      Satiric sarcasm ahead:

      Because, clearly they never misused: Gunpowder, engines, incendiaries, explosives, bladed objects, pointed-sticks+fresh-fruit or just using their own body as a weapon

    4. Get serious! Any technology is “dual use” and today’s military drones are just powered with chemical fuel. And the military is probably the last one who gives a shit about “carbon footprint” or “global warming”. But in the meantime the normal people will get “mobbed” more and more by “greenis” for normal cars and there will probably come more and more restrictions.
      Finite oil reserves and sometimes bad air quality in cities are another reason electric cars and beterer batteries are a good thing.

    5. Now this is clueless. Why? It isn’t based on facts, it isn’t true even if it was based on facts and there are already solutions that the military can use today.

      There are a lot of battery types (proper batteries a.k.a. primary batteries compared to Li-Ion, Ni-MH etc. _accumulators_ or secondary batteries) that are mostly used by the military. Why? Not because they are secrets but because they aren’t suitable to many other uses. E.g. batteries that can have a shelf-life of 40 years and can be quickly activated and then provide high power output for a limited time, such as aluminium-air batteries. There are other examples. The military also use chemically stored energy and extract electric power from that, not only in fuel cells but also from secondary effects of a primary engine (heat, air flow etc.), gasoline, diesel fuel, otto II fuel etc.

      1. The military also uses thermally activated batteries. Near infinite shelf live and high power when they are activated (ignited) to power some missile electronics. There is no need for recharge :-)

    6. Decent military drones run on aviation fuel. There no point militarising a DJI with a longer range battery when you’ve got bigger better drones with decent payload.
      The only risk from militarised mini drones is from insurgents.

      In the U.K., we ban big knives on civilians. Helps stop gangs. We don’t try to take knives from the army “to stop them killing people”…

      1. Big drones also come with big pricetags and are easy to shoot down with current AA systems… you are NOT going to down a DJI toy-drone with a modern AA system, not even the fancy ones, it’s just too small to reliably track ;-)

        Maybe some of the newer CRAM systems might have a chance, but still… $400 drone vs $5000+ worth of ammo (or a $35k+ rocket) to bring it down – even if you shot it down, you still lost the battle at the end of the day…
        Release hundreds of cheap drones above the conflict zone – it’s impossible to get them all, they will return with useful information.

  4. Oddly, the paper doesn’t say anything about fast charge rates. They’re quite specific in stating “**acceptable** charge/discharge rates”.

    The full quote: “…all-solid-state metal-plating batteries with the cathode strategy reported herein are simpler to fabricate at lower cost and offer much higher energy densities, longer cycle life, and acceptable charge/discharge rates.”

    1. The reason to call the charge/discharge rate “acceptable” in a scientific paper is because it is, as a fact inferior, but presumably only slightly. I agree that energy density and cycle life are more important than power density. That’s because when you design a battery pack with slower charging cells you just put more of them in parallel and the same omph is availble as with ordinary Li-ion cells and because the new cells are lighter, you end with a battery that possibly performs better overall, including in charge/discharge times.

      1. I think the power density is paramount, because you can’t have quick charging without. The infrastructure will be inundated with cars that have to sit hours on end on the end of a cable to go anywhere.

        1. That’s power density of the whole pack you’re talking about and that is true, but the power density of the individual cell can be mediated by paralleling the cells of an assembled battery. An example: Fictional low power density cell that can charge and discharge 0.2A / square centimeter compared to current tech- but also fictional cell can handle 1A / sqcm. So you simply parallel 5 of the new cells to get the same A/sqcm as the old cells, and because the energy density is higher in the new cell you have the same power density now as the old cell and the higher energy density because of the new cells. That was what I meant when I said that power density of the individual cell can less without a hit on performance and not that energy density for a whole pack is unimportant.

      2. Battery max charge / discharge rate is measured in C, which is a function of the battery’s capacity. If you took 1 battery, sliced it into 2, you’d have 2 batteries to charge at once. But each one would only have half the capacity. So it would balance out the same. Alternatively just consider the plate area, the area where the reactants meet and react to actually shift the electrons. It’s the same for 10 little batteries or 1 10x bigger one.

        Overall, the rate you can charge a battery is dependant on it’s size and it’s chemistry, nothing else you can do to get past that. Parallelling doesn’t help.

          1. This is simply not true what you are saying there. of cause you can’t change the power density for a specific chemistry or battery tech but here we are comparing it to a pack made with traditional Li-ion cells. If the new liscr cells have a third the weight for the same capacity as li-ion, you can sacrifice some of that space saving by using more cells in parallel or bigger cells. paralleling two cells doubles power density aswell as energy density and because the new cells are higher capacity you get comparable or better power density for the whole pack. This is simple fractional arithmetics.

        1. That’s power density of the whole pack you’re talking about and that is true, but the power density of the individual cell can be mediated by paralleling the cells of an assembled battery. An example: Fictional low power density cell that can charge and discharge 0.2A / square centimeter compared to current tech- but also fictional cell can handle 1A / sqcm. So you simply parallel 5 of the new cells to get the same A/sqcm as the old cells, and because the energy density is higher in the new cell you have the same power density now as the old cell and the higher energy density because of the new cells. That was what I meant when I said that power density of the individual cell can less without a hit on performance and not that energy density for a whole pack is unimportant.

        2. “Parallelling doesn’t help”
          umm, not entirely true… Parallelling increases surface which can contact a coolant medium, so you theoretically can get higher charge rates, even if not all that much more (depends on how much you want to gamble :D) and you’ll get more losses.

          Last but not least, there’s “plate thickness”. You can trade off some capacity for thicker conductors that are in contact with the anode and cathode, giving you lower internal resistance.
          Same goes the other way, less metal means more electrolyte, but now the internal resistance is higher and you can’t draw as much current without the thing going into meltdown.

  5. I want to believe…but years of “a revolution in battery technology is around the corner” have soured my optimism greatly, even for those that look genuinely promising.

    As ever, I’ll watch and wait. Until I can buy and use one myself, I have no faith.

    1. I don’t understand, battery technology has been getting better and better for years. It’s not that a revolution is only around the corner, a revolution is now.

    1. Nah, this guy’s just very good, he already invented lithium batteries. Don’t the statistics say that most scientists do all their useful work before they’re about 35 or so? Then after that just coast along? So we should be working on a way of training scientists even younger, and culling off the older ones, to reduce the competition for microscopes and test tubes.

      1. Em, we should be working on finding those people who have it in them to do these things and getting them familiar with the tools earlier in life rather than let them waste away as consumers of entertainment because their family is not going to realize, or care– and their teachers aren’t going to be able to pick up enough of the slack.

        <<0.25 in the swear jar for saying 'should' and i know better

        1. which is to say almost what you said but it’s not just about age range, though obviously being younger makes learning easier and allows more time for whatever work… but i’m saying the fact that some people never get started in spite of their talent is more tragic, at least. Remind people that nothing in any universe can be more complex than the language needed to completely describe it, yet when they were a kid they learned their native language without even realizing they needed to.

  6. HaD said:”There’s a paper available that is free, but requires registration.”

    HaD STOP saying something is “free” if you have to “register” to obtain it! Wake-Up.

    1. Free meaning no exchange of currency. Honestly, there are enough 10 minute e-mail services and the like that surely if you are really wanting to stay under the radar you should be able to these days.

  7. “The human species has always been one generation away from anarchy.”
    You mean Fascism.
    “The term originally meant leaderlessness, but in 1840, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon adopted the term in his treatise What Is Property? to refer to a new political philosophy, anarchism, which advocates stateless societies based on voluntary associations. In practical terms, anarchy can refer to the curtailment or abolition of traditional forms of government.”

    One definition
    “a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government”

    My early work is politically anarchist fiction, in that I was an anarchist for a long period of time. I’m not an anarchist any longer, because I’ve concluded that anarchism is an impractical ideal. Nowadays, I regard myself as a libertarian. I suppose an anarchist would say, paraphrasing what Marx said about agnostics being “frightened atheists,” that libertarians are simply frightened anarchists. Having just stated the case for the opposition, I will go along and agree with them: yes, I am frightened. I’m a libertarian because I don’t trust the people as much as anarchists do. I want to see government limited as much as possible; I would like to see it reduced back to where it was in Jefferson’s time, or even smaller. But I would not like to see it abolished. I think the average American, if left totally free, would act exactly like Idi Amin. I don’t trust the people any more than I trust the government.
    “Robert Anton Wilson: Searching For Cosmic Intelligence” – interview by Jeffrey Elliot (1980)”

  8. And how is this different to the 2007 Paper from Masahiro Tatsumisago about “Solid-State Lithium Batteries Using
    Glass Electrolytes” that comes up as the first search result for “solid glass electrolyte”?

  9. There are several important questions that jump out in this piece. First, why does that guy have such a crazy expensive work table? Second, why is this a video? Third, is that the whitest, most androgynous gangsta ever?

  10. Would the quick charging/decharging be the ‘negative aspect’ of this type of battery? Like you can store more energy but it has to be released quicker so you can’t use it for slow/little power consuming devices. (unless with a buffer)

    1. No, a device that needs little power will only draw little power.

      Large charge/discharge current capability is an almost entirely good feature to have in a battery. (There is something to be said for having a limited fault current in some applications)

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