The research team found that when formulated into a 3D structure, elastomers (synthetic rubbers) acted as a “superhighway” for fast lithium-ion transport with superior mechanical toughness over traditional materials, resulting in longer-charging batteries with extended performance longevity. 

In conventional lithium-ion batteries, ions are moved by a liquid electrolyte. However, the battery is inherently unstable: even the slightest damage can cause a leak into the electrolyte, leading to explosion or fire. The safety issues have forced the industry to look at solid-state batteries, which can be made using inorganic ceramic material or organic polymers.

“Most of the industry is focusing on building inorganic solid-state electrolytes, but they are hard to make, expensive and are not environmentally friendly,” said researcher Seung Woo Lee, associate professor.

Solid polymer electrolytes continue to attract great interest because of their low manufacturing...

Robert Heaton