Oxford University is one of the founder members of the Faraday Institution (https://faraday.ac.uk), the UK’s new flagship programme for battery science and technology. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have revolutionized the portable electronics industry because of their high energy density and efficiency, and are now widely deployed in electric vehicles. However, they suffer from significant safety and reliability issues, many of which are related to the use of flammable liquid electrolytes. There is a world-wide race to design and manufacture solid-state electrolyte materials that could resolve some of these problems. A range of oxide, phosphate and sulphide compounds have rather lower conductivities than liquid electrolytes, but show promise for use in prototype all solid-state battery designs if the thickness of the electrolyte can be reduced. The interfaces between electrodes and electrolytes are also well known to be electrochemically unstable, and strategies to modify the interfacial properties are being explored.
This project will use thin film deposition techniques (pulsed laser deposition and magnetron sputtering) to modify chemistry of interfaces between electrode and electrolyte materials in order to improve the cycling performance of prototype solid state battery designs. The influence of the deposition parameters on the phase, microstructure and mechanical properties of the films will be studied using XRD and electron microscopy techniques to establish the optimised growth conditions, and the electrochemical performance of promising structures will be measured.