Donghai Wang, who leads the Energy Nanostructure Laboratory at Penn State, has won a $1.1-million grant from the DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office to develop a new lithium-ion conductor that will prevent the formation of dendrites, the bane of lithium metal anodes.
Wang and his team plan to use thin layers of nanostructured hybrid materials to suppress dendrite formation. The goal is to develop protective, self-healing layers for Li-metal anodes that will allow high cycling efficiency and dendrite-free cycling.
The DOE also awarded $1.25 million to a separate research project led by Prashant Kumta at the University of Pittsburgh on engineering approaches to dendrite-free lithium anodes. This project will design a composite lithium anode/current collector to mitigate dendrite formation. The researchers will explore composite structures consisting of a porous foam (for example, copper) and an optimal isomorphous lithium alloy (for example, lithium and magnesium).