A research team from the University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC) has been awarded a $1 million worth of fund by NASA to further expand its battery technology research. The group has been working on a battery technology that could potentially power future space missions.

Nokia's Li-ion battery. Source: WikipediaNokia's Li-ion battery. Source: WikipediaThe solid-state battery, developed by Eric Wachsman, Liangbing Hu and Chunsheng Wang, focuses on three areas: safety, performance and cost.

"This all solid-state technology really changes everything, as it addresses all of the concerns we have about batteries today,” says Wachsman, who serves as the director of UMERC and a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Waschman has been working on low-cost ceramic fabrication techniques, demonstrating the ability to fabricate thin-film ceramic battery electrolytes with very low resistance. The high stability of these garnet ceramic electrolytes enabled the team to use metallic lithium anodes, which contain the greatest possible theoretical energy density and are considered to be one of the best possible options for batteries.

Combined with high capacity sulfur cathodes, this battery technology has an energy density that outperforms almost any lithium-ion battery currently on the market, the researchers say.

"In addition to its intrinsic safety, another unique feature of our solid-state garnet lithium-sulfur battery is that the dense garnet electrolyte can prevent the shuttle reaction of sulfur cathodes and dendrite of lithium anodes, allowing the realization of high energy lithium-sulfur chemistry," says Wang. This improves the longevity of lithium-sulfur batteries.

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