One approach is designing new materials like high-Ni containing cathodes. Our approach is different and considers capacity utilization percentage. Improving the charging homogeneity and chemomechanical properties has been our research focus in the past few years. Today, our Li-ion batteries cannot deliver stable cathode capacity greater than 220 mAh/g due to side reactions with the electrolyte etc. We recently performed a study where we looked at electrodes and their thousands of particles. It turns out most of the particles undergo incomplete charging. A significant portion of the particles is not even charged at all. If we can utilize that part of the capacity, it would be great. To achieve that we need to homogenize the charging reactions across the entire electrode. That will entail the engineering of different cell components. On top of that, most of these high-Ni containing layered oxides are polycrystalline materials. They have a lot of smaller grains, so how can you ensure each grain has the same charging pattern? If we can engineer each small particle to charge and discharge at the same rate, at the same time, then we can better utilize the capacity.
This is our strategy for solving the issues encountered in high-Ni content, however, the fundamental aspect is widely applicable to any battery electrode materials.
Another interesting project is to design battery materials that are resistant to extreme conditions, such as high-energy irradiation. This is really looking into the future, such as outer space exploration and nuclear power industries.