News

Nature-imitating coating makes batteries more durable and efficient

Aalto University's researchers were the first in the world to make use of carbon dioxide in the production of a battery protective coating. In the future, the coating could multiply the battery life and enable the use of new, more efficient materials.
Nature-imitating coating, picture: Juho Heiska
The picture shows carbon nanotubes coated with a coating using carbon dioxide in molecular layer deposition.

When batteries are charged and used, a complex SEI (solid electrolyte interphase) layer is formed. Its structure resembles a mosaic consisting of organic and inorganic parts assembled from several blocks.

Researchers have noticed that if an artificial layer is applied to the electrode surface of a battery, the batteries can be recharged and used longer. The actual electrode material is saved when the separately added layer reacts and forms a protective SEI layer. The surface of an artificially produced SEI is also more even and of a higher quality than that of a naturally developed layer.

Inorganic materials, i.e. materials that do not contain carbon, have been used in the atomic layer deposition. Now, Aalto University's researchers have been the first in the world to produce a coating using carbon dioxide in molecular layer deposition.

‘We will make a coating that imitates a completely natural SEI layer and which we hope will protect the actual electrode material’, says doctoral candidate Juho Heiska.

In addition to increasing battery durability, the artificial SEI can also enable the use of new, more efficient electrode materials. The battery is always composed of two electrodes, each with its own characteristics that affect the performance of the battery.

‘It would be a jackpot, if batteries could use metallic lithium. If clean lithium metal could be used safely, it would significantly increase the capacity of batteries. With the help of an artificial SEI, this might be possible’, says Juho Heiska. Metal lithium can ignite the battery if it comes into contact with water or air. It is, therefore, challenging to use it in batteries.

The use of batteries is increasing rapidly in society, as, for example, electric vehicles become more common. Therefore, improving sustainability and efficiency are important for the environment.

‘Metal extraction is too cheap at the moment, which is why companies do not have the incentive to produce products with a longer life span. And consumers are not interested in paying more for batteries’, says Juho Heiska.

The study succeeded in building an organic part of SEI. Next, the researchers will test how the artificial coating now developed protects the battery.

The article was published in Nanoscale Advances in May 2020.

J. Heiska, M. Madadi and M. Karppinen, CO2-based atomic/molecular layer deposition of lithium ethylene carbonate thin films, Nanoscale Adv., 2020,2, 2441-2447. https://doi.org/10.1039/D0NA00254B

Further information:

Juho Heiska
Doctoral candidate
Inorganic chemistry
Department of Chemistry and Materials Science
Aalto University
Tel. + 358 41 4300792
[email protected]

  • Published:
  • Updated:

Read more news

Olli Ikkana in Otaniemi, photo by Lasse Lecklin.
Research & Art Published:

Bioinspired colours and adaptable materials - Professor Olli Ikkala's third EU project builds on living systems

Department of Applied Physics Professor Olli Ikkala received his third Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) on 11 April 2024. The funding amounts to €2.5 million and the project will run for five years.
Professor Antti Oulasvirta. Photo: Aalto University / Jaakko Kahilaniemi
Press releases, Research & Art Published:

Researchers investigate how AI could better understand humans

Antti Oulasvirta has received a EUR 2.5 million Advanced Grant by the European Research Council (ERC) for the study of user models.
Kuvituskuva, jossa kirkkain värein piirretty tyttö katsoo graafista kuviota.
Research & Art Published:

How to put education policy to the test

Finland is testing changes in national education before committing to them – and showing how randcomized controlled trials can take the guesswork out of policy-making
Olli Ikkala ja Esa Saarinen
University Published:

Olli Ikkala and Esa Saarinen found a common thread in baroque music and lecturing

Olli Ikkala will continue his research on nature-inspired materials and will find himself again as an organist after his busy research career. Esa Saarinen, on the other hand, continued to lecture the Philosophy and Systems Thinking (Filosofia ja systeemiajattelu) course to packed halls this spring. When they met, they discussed the organ and the atmosphere of the lectures.