Description:

Background

The design of traditional battery and supercapacitors consist of two electrodes separated by an ion-permeable membrane where the electrolyte is soaked. The electrodes could be fabricated by mixing active materials with conductive carbon additives and polymer binders in a volatile solvent which are then deposited/coated on a metal foil or pressed in the form of a tablet. The electrolytes are formed by lithium salts are dissolved inorganic carbonate solvents such as ethylene carbonate, dimethyl carbonate, and diethyl carbonate. The cell is assembled by stacking both electrodes deposited in the metal foil separated by an inert membrane soaked with the electrolyte. The flexibility of such a cell is limited by the metallic current collectors, the active materials could easily detach from the metallic collectors due to insufficient adhesion and could have leakage of liquid electrolyte leading to a very poor cyclability. To avoid these problems and to increase the possibilities related to the weight, volume, and shape of the cells, all-solid-state devices are preferred.

One of the differences between liquid and solid electrolyte system is the wetting between the electrolyte and electrode. The liquid electrolyte can easily penetrate porous electrode materials and have good contact. However, when typical solid-state electrolytes were used with the active materials with high porosity, the contact between the electrode and electrolyte can be limited as point-to-point contact with the poor integration. 

Technology Overview

Northeastern University researchers have developed a procedure to engineer a highly integrated, flexible, reconfigurable, and miniaturizable electrode/electrolyte system for application in energy storage devices, sensors, and so on. The platform is a versatile porous membrane which acts as a support for both electrode and electrolyte. The membrane is formed by a polymer such as poly(vinyl alcohol), poly(vinylpyrrolidone), poly(acrylic acid), and block copolymers and other that can be used to produce physical and chemical gels. The active materials of the electrodes are carbon-based 3D nanomaterials such as vertically aligned carbon nanotubes, graphene, carbon black, assembled CNTs (Carbon nanotubes), and carbon nano cups or inorganic nanostructures materials. The liquid phases of the electrolytes are acid, base, and saline aqueous solution, lithium salt dissolved in organic solvents and ionic liquids.

Benefits

  • The integrated electrode/electrolyte systems allow the production of very thin, lightweight, flexible all-solid-state, high-performance structural supercapacitors, batteries and sensors for uses in the portable, wearable, and flexible electronic devices 
  • Good mechanical stability helps to hold the reactants or small components without loss
  • The polymer/electrode can be reused by treatments such as washing or flushing

Applications

The flexible and stable polymer/electrode system has potentials for various applications; 

  • Energy devices including supercapacitors and batteries, electrodes for sensors. 

Opportunity

  • License
  • Partnering
  • Research collaboration
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Mark Saulich
Associate Director of Commercialization
Northeastern University
m.saulich@northeastern.edu
Inventors:
Sanghyun Hong
Yung Joon Jung
Rodrigo Lassarote Lavall
Hyehee Kim
Ahmed Busnaina
Keywords: