Postdoctoral Researcher on Next Generation Batteries
What you will do
Lithium-ion is the technology of choice for rechargeable battery applications as the Li-ion electrode chemistries provide the highest volumetric and gravimetric energy density known. Since its first introduction on the market by Sony in 1991, it took more than 20 years to double its energy density from 250Wh/L to 500Wh/L mainly by improvements in the electrode formulations. This evolution was primarily driven by the advent of portable electronics such as the smart phone. In the last few years, we have seen a push in energy density with the introduction of new electrode materials with higher intrinsic Li-ion storage capacity. State-of-the art cells today reach nearly 700Wh/L. This second wave in Li-ion technology developments is driven by the emerging electrical vehicle market. It is expected that further improvements can bring us to 800Wh/L in the first part of the 2020’s. For the next generation batteries, targeting 1000Wh/L, it is generally agreed that Li-metal anodes in combination with all-solid-state concepts will be needed.
At imec, we are developing high conductivity solid nanocomposite electrolytes for solid-state Li-ion batteries. For the integration, we are using similar cathode and anode materials as currently used in wet batteries. Focus lays on interface control and mechanical stability. In a next step, lithium metal anodes will be considered. The integration of lithium has many technological issues. The potential formation of dendrites during recharging of the battery is, for example, a serious safety concern. Also, the planar geometry of a simple lithium foil poses issues towards rate performance as the current density is much larger than for the current graphite electrodes which have a large effective surface area. The fact that several microns of lithium are plated (appear) and de-plated (disappear) at the anode side is obviously not straightforward in the case of all solid state architectures. Therefore, alloys with lithium and surface area enlargement by, for example, patterning are considered as potential solution.
In this project, you will investigate and optimize the lithium plating and de-plating characteristics at the current collector/lithium (alloy)/ solid electrolyte interfaces. This learning will then lead to the development of conditions for control of lithium thickness, current density, electrical contact and morphology.
What we do for you
We offer you the opportunity to join one of the world’s premier research centers in nanotechnology at its headquarters in Leuven, Belgium. With your talent, passion and expertise, you’ll become part of a team that makes the impossible possible. Together, we shape the technology that will determine the society of tomorrow.
We are proud of our open, multicultural, and informal working environment with ample possibilities to take initiative and show responsibility. We commit to supporting and guiding you in this process; not only with words but also with tangible actions. Through imec.academy, 'our corporate university', we actively invest in your development to further your technical and personal growth.
We are aware that your valuable contribution makes imec a top player in its field. Your energy and commitment are therefore appreciated by means of a competitive salary.
Who you are
- You have a PhD degree in electrochemistry, material chemistry, or engineering.
- We value your excellent knowledge of electrochemistry. Experience in deposition and characterization of thin-films is a plus.
- You are knowledgeable on lithium(-ion) cell technology.
- We appreciate your initiative and independent attitude, while being part of a team.
- You can plan your work according to team deadlines and deliverables.
- We enjoy your creative mind and interest to think with the team to solve problems.
- You are result-driven and can meet stringent deadlines with qualitative output.
- We think it is important that you are flexible to accept new challenges and evolve together with the changing R&D demands of our high-tech environment.
- We are looking for your excellent communication skills in English, as you will work in a multicultural team.
This postdoctoral position is funded by imec through KU Leuven. Because of the specific financing statute which targets international mobility for postdocs, only candidates who did not stay or work/study in Belgium for more than 24 months in the past 3 years can be considered for the position (short stays such as holiday, participation in conferences, etc. are not taken into account).