Mark another step toward energy dense, safe, solid state magnesium-ion batteries. New developments by a team of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) scientists at the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) who were looking to create a magnesium battery with a liquid electrolyte, point to a new material--magnesium scandium selenide spinel, that has magnesium mobility comparable to solid state electrolytes for lithium batteries.
Magnesium has properties that have shown promise for energy storage, but science has had trouble finding a viable liquid electrolyte for the technology that wouldn’t corrode. In a battery, the electrolyte carries the electric charge back and forth between the battery's cathode and anode. The electrolyte is a liquid in all commercial batteries, which makes them potentially flammable and at risk for explosion, especially in lithium-ion batteries. A solid-state conductor, on the other hand, which has the potential to become an electrolyte, would be far more fire-resistant.
“There are enormous efforts in industry to make a solid-state battery. . .because you would have the ultimate safe battery,” says Gerbrand Ceder, a Berkeley Lab Senior Faculty Scientist.
The researchers plan further work to use the conductor in a practical battery application. "This probably has a long way to go before you can make a battery out of it, but it's the first demonstration you can make solid-state materials with really good magnesium mobility through it," Mr. Ceder says. "Magnesium is thought to move slowly in most solids, so nobody thought this would be possible. This material shows a small amount of electron leakage, which has to be removed before it can be used in a battery,” says Mr. Ceder.
“With the help of a concerted effort bringing together computational materials science methodologies, synthesis, and a variety of characterization techniques, we have identified a new class of solid conductors that can transport magnesium ions at unprecedented speed,” says Pieremanuele Canepa, a lead author of the research.
The research was conducted by the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California, U.S. (Berkeley Lab) and Argonne National Laboratory, Lemont (Chicago), Illinois, U.S., with collaboration from MIT (Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.).
The research findings were reported in Nature Communications in a paper titled, “High magnesium mobility in ternary spinel chalcogenides.”
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