Potential 'game-changing' solid state batteries research

A circuit board with a glowing battery shaped object

'We hope the additional insights we have gained will help the progress of solid-state battery research towards a practical device'

Professor Sir Peter Bruce

Researchers from this department and The Faraday Institution's SOLBAT project have made a breakthrough in  understanding why solid state batteries fail.  In their paper 'Dendrite initiation and propagation in lithium metal solid-state batteries', published in Nature,  co-lead authors Dominic Melvin and Professor Sir Peter Bruce explain how they used X-ray tomography at Diamond Light Source to visualise dendrite failure in unprecedented detail during the battery charging process.  


The new imaging study revealed that the initiation and propagation of the dendrite cracks are separate processes, driven by distinct underlying mechanisms.  Dendrite cracks initiate when lithium accumulates in sub-surface pores.  When those pores become full, further charging of the battery increases the pressure, leading to cracking.  In contrast, propagation occurs with lithium only partially filling the crack, through a wedge-opening mechanism which drives the crack open from the rear.  

'While pressure at the lithium anode can be good to avoid gaps developing at the interface with the solid electrolyte on discharge, our results demonstrate that too much pressure can be detrimental, making dendrite propagation and short-circuit on charging more likely'.

Dominic Melvin

You can read more about this game-changing research by visiting the University's news website: 'New study could help unlock 'game-changing' batteries for electric vehicles and aviation'.