News

Toyota enthusiastic over Aalto’s materials research

Professor Maarit Karppinen’s research group is developing better battery materials by means of atomic layer deposition.
ald_aalto_university_school_of_chemical_technology_photo_mikko_raskinen_en.jpg

The car-manufacturing giant found Aalto University and Maarit Karppinen’s research group on the basis of a recommendation.

‘They bought the reactor needed for atomic layer deposition from Picosun, a Finnish company that told them we would have the research expertise they needed,’ explains doctoral researcher Mikko Nisula, who works in Professor Karppinen’s group.

 ‘It’s great that an international car-manufacturing giant is capable in practice of utilizing the long-term basic research with ALD technology we’ve been doing. The cooperation has advanced quite smoothly,’ Professor Karppinen says.

Atomic layer precision

Atomic layer deposition (ALD) is a method patented in Finland with which it is possible to produce very thin films of excellent quality with up to atomic layer precision. In a joint project by Toyota and Aalto, ALD is being utilized in the manufacture of safer lithium-ion batteries. The goal is to be able to replace the liquid, combustion-sensitive electrolyte normally used with a solid-state electrolyte.

‘A battery is composed of three elements: a positive electrode, negative electrode and an electrolyte between them which is generally lithium salt dissolved in organic fluid. These solutions are quite inflammable – i.e. if something goes wrong, they can really burst into flames. In addition, ordinary liquid electrolytes disintegrate when using the battery, whereupon a passivating layer is formed on the surface of the electrodes which weakens battery operation and reduces its service life,’ relates Mikko Nisula.

A solid-state electrolyte is more stable, but there is a problem linked with its use as well. A passivating layer also forms with solid-state electrolytes, and the layer is often so thick that the battery can only be used with quite minimal power.

‘Our idea is to coat the positive electrode particles with a suitable material by utilizing the atomic layer deposition method, so that a protective layer of a couple of nanometres is formed on them which will prevent the reaction of the electrode with the electrolyte, but still allow the movement of lithium-ions,’ states Mikko Nisula, outlining the idea of the research project.

For a company like Toyota, safe and functional batteries are vital.

According to Mr Nisula, the most challenging aspect of the work is the production of a protective layer that is even in quality. The goal of the year-long project is to indicate that the idea works in practice. For a company like Toyota, safe and functional batteries are vital.

‘In a traffic accident, an easily ignited battery can pose a great risk,’ Mikko Nisula further points out.

‘Our idea also extends the service life of batteries in operation. In electric cars, the battery makes up a large part of the price, so a longer-lasting battery in such vehicles in particular would mean a great saving.’  

More information:

Doctoral candidate Mikko Nisula, Aalto University School of Chemical Technology, Department of Chemistry
[email protected]

Professor Maarit Karppinen, Aalto University School of Chemical Technology, Department of Chemistry
[email protected]

 

Text Minna Hölttä, photos Mikko Raskinen

 

  • Published:
  • Updated:
Share
URL copied!

Read more news

Professor Zhipei Sun, photo: Niina Norjamäki/Aalto University
Research & Art Published:

Top-up funding for Aalto University to exploit research results

Aalto University Professor Zhipei Sun is leading one of the potential frontier research projects.
Työelämäprofessori Sebastian Schlecht soittamassa virtuaalimaailmassa. Kuva: Aalto-yliopisto
Research & Art Published:

Inside the Quartet takes the audience to the virtual world of string quartets

Professional acoustics and sound specialists have been involved in implementing the virtual reality installation that will be on display in Hanover and Helsinki in May and at Our Festival in Järvenpää and Tuusula in July.
Image by Ico Maker
Research & Art Published:

Blockchains uphold data platform cooperation

Research has shown that a blockchain supports the transparency of data and the integrity of data in traffic between different platforms in an Internet of Things environment, thereby stabilising collaboration among platforms.
The picture shows Georg Namuth and three other CEMS graduates celebrating at the graduation ceremony.
Research & Art, Studies Published:

There is more to work than a big salary

A global survey of 4206 professionals found that work-life balance and salary rank equally as top criteria when looking for a new job. However, the choice of a job depends on many other factors as well, says CEMS Aalto alumnus Georg Namuth.