The co-inventor of Lithium-ion batteries, John Goodenough (professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering in The University of Texas at Austin) and his team created the world’s first solid state batteries. Goodenough worked with Maria Helena Braga, Cockrell School senior research fellow and a team of engineers at the University of Texas to create an all solid state battery that has a longer battery life while being safer due being noncombustible.
They demonstrated the new solid states batteries have 3x times the energy density of normal lithium-ion batteries. In laymen terms, if both batteries occupy the same space (for instance, a smartphone), the solid state battery would provide 3x the battery life of the normal lithium-ion battery that powers almost everything in today’s technological society. The solid state batteries also provide longer lasting batteries and a faster rate of recharge compared to today’s batteries.
There a few differences between a lithium-ion battery and this new battery. With the Lithium-Ion batteries that we use today, there is a liquid lithium mix that carries an electrical back and forth between the poles of the battery. The problem is that Li-Ion batteries can short circuit if the battery charges too quickly, causing a fire or an explosion. In this new battery idea, sodium and glass will be used instead of lithium liquid mix, hence the term solid state battery. The added benefit of the sodium and glass is that the process that causes a short circuit can’t form.
The research for solid state batteries was started years ago by Braga at the The University of Porto in Portugal. In the last few years, she teamed up with John Goodenough and Andrew J. Murchison, a researcher at University of Texas to finalize and patent the solid state battery though the UT Austin Office of Technology Commercialization. In addition, these batteries can be produced at a cheaper cost since the sodium in the batteries could be extracted from seawater, making solid state batteries more earth-friendly versus using lithium in current batteries.