Lithium-ion batteries are now widely used for smartphones, portable game consoles and other devices. However, the new storage cell, known as the all-solid-state battery, is said to be poised to succeed them as it cannot suffer from electrolyte leakage, overheat or catch fire.
The ingredient, discovered by Ryoji Kanno, a chemistry professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and his colleagues is also expected to improve battery performance.
Their findings were announced by the university on July 14.
Lithium-ion batteries typically use a liquid known as the electrolyte as one of its ingredients.
As electrolytes contain flammable substances, there is a risk of leakage or catching fire. Because of that, products powered by lithium-ion batteries are sometimes prohibited from being brought onto airplanes.
The all-solid-state battery does not use any liquid materials, so it can ensure a high level of safety.
Although it is more difficult to allow electricity to pass through solid bodies than fluid, Kanno and his colleagues in 2011 succeeded in developing a solid electrolyte material, whose ionic conductivity is as high as that of liquid electrolyte.
But the material was made up of pricey rare metals.
The recently found ingredient for all-solid-state batteries was developed by combining cheap materials, such as tin and silicon, but its performance is as high as liquid electrolytes at room temperature.
Costs to make batteries using the new easier-to-process material are expected to be less than one-third those of ones based on rare metals.
“It (the new material) can ensure a high level of safety and will be able to be used for various purposes, such as electric cars,” said Kanno.
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