Leading the effort was John Goodenough, 94, the co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, a professor in the university's Cockrell School of Engineering.
Goodenough and senior research fellow Maria Helena Braga came up with a low-cost all-solid-state battery that will not combust. Battery life is long, it has a high volumetric energy density and charging is fast, according to an announcement from the university.
The two recently published their findings in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.
Lithium-ion batteries use liquid electrolytes to transport ions between the anode and the cathode.
A battery cell that is charged too quickly will result in dendrites or “metal whiskers” forming and crossing through the liquid electrolytes, causing a short circuit that can lead to explosions and fires.
Instead of liquid electrolytes, Goodenough and Braga relied on glass electrolytes that meant they could use an alkali-metal anode and thus avoid the formation of dendrites.
Conventional batteries cannot use an alkali-metal anode (lithium, sodium or potassium). Use of such anodes increases the energy density of a cathode and results in longer life.
In experiments, the researchers’ cells demonstrated more than 1200 cycles with low cell resistance.
Apart from this, this battery cell could operate at extremely low temperatures because the solid-glass electrolytes can have high conductivity at -20 degrees Celsius. It is claimed to be the first all-solid-state battery cell that can operate below 60 degrees Celsius.
The glass electrolytes mean that plating and stripping alkali metals on both the cathode and the anode side can be done without dendrites, which simplifies battery cell fabrication. Additionally, the cells can be made from earth-friendly materials.
The announcement said Goodenough and Braga would be continuing their battery-related research and working on several patents.
They hope to work with battery makers to develop and test their new materials in electric vehicles and energy storage devices.