Lithium-ion batteries (LiB) with a solid-state electrolyte can potentially solve two key limitations of today’s LiB with liquid electrolytes, namely, safety issues due to the flammability of the electrolyte and cycle life time due to unwanted side-reactions at the solid/liquid interface. The improved safety and potentially extended lifetime of solid-state LiBs makes them highly desired, however, finding a solid-state electrolyte with Li+ conductivity comparable to existing liquid electrolytes (>10 mS/cm) that also exhibits good electrochemical stability turns out to be extremely challenging. At imec, we design solid electrolytes through the principle of heterogeneous doping. Heterogeneous doping refers to the significantly enhanced ion transport that occurs at the interface between a typically oxide insulators (e.g. silica, alumina, alumina silicates,...) and inorganic or organic lithium salts. This interface phenomena can be exploited to create new Li-ion electrolyte materials with high ionic conductivity, provided an oxide/Li-salt composite material with very large interfacial surface area can be made. The concept of using interfaces to engineer ion conductivity has been termed “nanoionics”.
During your doctoral research, you will develop novel nanocomposite electrolytes using wet chemical processes compatible with existing battery coating techniques. You have or will acquire a strong background in synthesis and characterization of mesoporous and nanostructured materials and their surface functionalization. The interface ion conduction will be tailored by the oxide surface chemistry and studied using spectroscopic techniques such as FTIR and Raman. Through combination of modelling and experiment you will help to unravel the fundamentals of interface conduction mechanism. You will perform you research in the solid-state battery team in imec and make use of the battery lab facilities in imec-Leuven and at EnergyVille in Genk. You will benefit from the multi-disciplinary environment of imec and from interactions with industrial partners in the imec battery program.
Required background: chemistry, nanomaterials, physics or equivalent background with interest in electrochemistry and ionics
Type of work: mostly experimental with optionally supported also by simulations
Supervisor: Philippe Vereecken
Daily advisor: Maarten Mees
The reference code for this PhD position is SE1804-04. Mention this reference code on your application form.