Biologically Inspired High-Power Batteries

Daniel E. Morse Center for Energy Efficient Materials Institute for Energy Efficiency University of California, Santa Barbara

• Alternative, renewable sources of energy • Electric cars, trains, ships; air & space launches • Faster, denser digital information processing • Smart grid distribution systems…

…ALL need better, higher capacity, more powerful, safe BATTERIES for storage of electrical energy.

Synthesis of Nanostructured Semiconductorand Metal-Based Nanocomposite Electrodes for High-Power Batteries… Biological inspiration: Living organisms make remarkable nanostructures of silica

Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies Army-Industry Collaboration Conference February 8-9, 2011

Sponges make skeletons of nanostructured silica

Silicateins enzymatically catalyze and template the synthesis of silica fibers - at low temperature

Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies Army-Industry Collaboration Conference February 8-9, 2011

Translating the biomolecular mechanism to practical chemistry and materials synthesis…..

Lessons Learned from Biology: •  Slow catalysis of synthesis from molecular precursor ⇒ kinetic control Vectorial control of crystal growth to regulate polymorph, orientation & connectivity


Bio-Inspired, Low-T Nanofabrication of Semiconductors and Metals Offers Advantages for Wide Range of Applications
Lightweight, Higher Power Safe Lithium-Ion Batteries Low-cost Solar Energy
Discovered Molecular Mechanism of Biological Nanofabrication of Silica

2007 Hybrid electric Tesla

Translated to New Bio-inspired, Low-temperature, Low-Cost Synthesis of Nanostructured Semiconductor Thin-films and Nanoparticles

Infrared detectors for Medical Diagnosis High-resolution 3D Medical Ultrasound,

-  Generic; >50 Semiconductors -  Novel Structures; Uniquely Useful Properties

High-power, High Energy-Density, Safe Li-ion Batteries

Catalytic Growth of Nanocrystalline Tin in Graphite Yields Exceptionally High Power Anode
Kinetically controlled catalytic synthesis grows Sn nanocrystals in situ, inside the pores of the compliant, conductive carbon matrix of graphite
Gentle, low-temperature catalysis retains crystallinity and porosity of graphite !

The resilient graphite “breathes” to accommodate large volume changes accompanying each cycle of Li alloying and de-alloying on charging and discharging, yielding exceptionally high power, stability and cyclability:
60 0 Nanocomposite 50 0 40 0 30 0 20 0 Graphite alone

Retains nearly 50% capacity after discharge at 50 C Fully reversible!

Nanocomposite NG

Sn(15 wt.%)@NG

High Power


10 0 0 0

High Energy

Cycle number




The Value of High Power:
Cell Phones, Computers, I-pods, etc. Power Tools Electric Cars Trucks & Military Full recovery after very high rate discharge !

Present commercial Graphite

Carbon Nanotube-based Nanocomposites
Recently discovered new form of matter. Highly conductive; cost-competitive; freedom from monopoly on strategic natural resource , but: very difficult to mix with metals or metal oxides to form good anodes or cathodes.

Our CATALYTIC Solution:
Carbon Nanotubes

Form nanocomposite precursor


Disperse uniformly in solution with metal or metal oxide precursor

Desired CNT-based High-Power Nanocomposite Anodes & Cathodes

Catalytic growth of metal nanocrystals inside the conductive and resilient matrix of dispersed carbon nanotubes

Capacity (mAh/g)

600 400 200 0

High-Energy Nanocomposite

CNTs alone
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Cycle number

Intensity (a.u.)

! !

Sn !


! ! ! ! !

! ! !












Calculated performance of CEEM s High-Power and High-Energy Anodes in combination with commercial LiFePO4 cathode:

40% more energy

10x more power !

Catalytic Synthesis of CNT-based Nanocomposite Cathode: High Crystallinity and Unparalleled Mixing

High Power, High Voltage CNT-based Nanocomposite Cathode
96% retention of original capacity after discharge at 10 C >80% capacity retention at the exceptionally high rate of 20 C Full recovery after complete discharge at 50C

+ ( Voltage V vs. Li/Li)

4.5 4.2 3.9 3.6 3.3 3.0 0 50 100 150

1st 2nd


Capacity (mAh/g)

Safe High Energy Storage: Protection Against Overheating and Fire
BaSrTiO3 nanocrystalline ceramic coatings for electrodes or current collectors for explosion-proof rechargeable Li-ion batteries Very fine grain BaSrTiO3 nanocrystalline ceramic Electrophoretic deposition and doubleannealing of BaSrTiO3 nanocrystals yields smooth, uncracked films with low initial resistivity, lower Tc, and strong PTCR protection:

Protection results from unique 
 Positive Thermal Coefficient of Resistance:

Experimental Fit

Resistance (Ohm)


PTCR = 104
2.0x108 1.0x108

PTCR = 105 !

Tc = 130 oC

Tc = 52 oC
200.0 250.0 300.0

0.0 0.0 50.0 100.0 150.0

T (oC) 2.5 µm
La-doped and sintered ceramic: high crystallinity & conductivity

Manufacturers Recall Millions of Batteries Because of Fire Threat

Syntheses of Anode, Cathode and Safety Protectant are “Chemical,” and Readily Scalable
Three Essential Elements: • Vapor Diffusion Catalysis Glove
 • Low Temperature • Unprecedented Kinetic Control



Lab Scale: 100 mg 2 kg/batch 1-2 Kg Batch

N2 carrier gas in

Gas out


catalyst precursor

250 gm (99% yield)

Highly crystalline 6.9 nm Pure


Combines advantages of kinetic control with high-throughput


Enabling the Vision
Bio-inspired, kinetically controlled, low-temperature catalytic nanofabrication offers batteries with:
• Exceptionally high power - even at 50C! • Higher cyclability and stability • Increased safety • Readily scalable manufacturing • Generic platform technology • Broad range of applications • Opportunities for strategic industry partnerships
We gratefully acknowledge support from: • CEEM and IEE • DOE

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