Home Mobility New all-solid-state battery inventor hits back at critics

New all-solid-state battery inventor hits back at critics

The inventor of a new all-solid-state battery has hit back at critics of his announcement who have claimed that it violates the laws of thermodynamics.

John Goodenough, the co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, and fellow researcher Maria Helena Braga at the University of Texas, announced what they claimed as the first all-solid-state battery cells, that could lead to safer, faster-charging, longer-lasting rechargeable batteries for mobiles, electric cars and stationary storage, last month.

Goodenough and Braga (below, right) said they used glass electrolytes in their experiments to avoid the danger from dendrites that cross through liquid electrolytes and cause short-circuits that lead to fires and explosions.

In recent days, however, other researchers have expressed scepticism about Goodenough's announcement, claiming that for his invention to work as described it would have to go against the laws of thermodynamics which say perpetual motion is not possible.

While Goodenough's reputation in the battery industry has ensured that nobody has challenged his findings in the open, some have come close.


John Goodenough: defending his invention.

“If anyone but Goodenough published this, I would be, well, it’s hard to find a polite word,” Daniel Steingart, a professor at Princeton, told the website Quartz. He has published a detailed article, raising doubts about the discovery.

bragaAnother expert, Dalhousie University’s Jeff Dahn, whose Canadian laboratory has a contract with Tesla, told the same website: "It’s kind of like cold fusion. Here is an experiment that is unbelievable. There could be a small possibility that it is right."

Asked for his response, Goodenough told iTWire in a statement: "Any new discovery invites strong scepticism. In this case, scientists wonder how it is possible to strip lithium from the anode and plate it on a cathode current collector to obtain a battery voltage since the voltage is the difference in the chemical potentials (Fermi energies) between the two metallic electrodes.

"The answer is that if the lithium plated on the cathode current collector is thin enough for its reaction with the current collector to have its Fermi energy lowered to that of the current collector, the Fermi energy of the lithium anode is higher than that of the thin lithium plated on the cathode current collector.

"At The University of Texas at Austin, the investigators have demonstrated that plating on a cathode current collector from a lithium anode can give a voltage greater than 3.0 volts."


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.