April 12, 2024

Dr. Ji-Hoon Lee, from the Department of Hydrogen Energy Materials at the Korea Institute of Materials Science (KIMS), and his research team have made a significant breakthrough in the field of energy storage. They have developed a novel three-dimensional, porous, carbon-based current collector material and successfully applied it to secondary batteries and supercapacitors. This innovative material not only improves the energy density of the devices but also extends their lifespan.

The research, conducted in collaboration with Prof. Insuk Choi at Seoul National University and Prof. Jungho Shin at Gangneung-Wonju National University, has garnered attention in the scientific community. Their findings were published as a cover paper in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces on May 18.

The current collector plays a critical role in manufacturing thin film electrode plates. However, its weight and size often limit improvements in energy density and the reduction of overall device weight and volume. This limitation is particularly significant in the field of medium and large-sized electrochemical energy storage devices, such as electric vehicles, where repeated charging and discharging occur. Moisture and air infiltration into the battery can lead to the delamination of the active material or corrosion of the existing metal current collector, shortening the battery’s lifespan.

To address these challenges, the research team fabricated a carbon-based current collector with a three-dimensional porous carbon structure. They achieved this by utilizing a floating catalyst chemical vapor deposition (FC-CVD) method, resulting in a stable material suitable for various operating environments. Furthermore, the team successfully applied the active material coating process, commonly used in the secondary battery industry, to mass-produce electrodes. This approach allows for the mass production of electrodes without the need to modify the current collector material for specific operating conditions, such as electrolyte and operating voltage.

The development of this carbon-based current collector holds great promise for the advancement of energy storage technologies, particularly in the realm of electric vehicles and other applications requiring medium to large-sized energy storage devices. By improving energy density and extending lifespan, this breakthrough could revolutionize the field and contribute to the widespread adoption of sustainable energy solutions.

Life stability and initial capacity retention rate improvement by current collector developed by the research team. Credit: Korea Institute of Materials Science (KIMS)

Dr. Ji-Hoon Lee, the lead researcher, and his team have achieved remarkable improvements in energy/power density and cycling stability by utilizing the wide pores of the current collectors. The porous structure of the current collector enables efficient transport of lithium ions, leading to enhanced performance. Unlike conventional metal foils that have a two-dimensional structure and limited interfacial contact area with the active material, the newly developed three-dimensional carbon-based current collector maximizes the interfacial area, ensuring a highly stable connection and significantly improving the device’s lifespan.

Expressing optimism, Dr. Ji-Hoon Lee stated, “With the fundamental challenges of the material now addressed, we can accelerate the commercialization of the carbon-based current collector and expand its utilization across a wide range of energy storage devices. This study has redefined the role of the current collector, which was previously considered a minor component in electrode formation. Through further research, we aim to spearhead the development of environmentally friendly and highly cost-effective energy conversion technologies.”

The breakthrough achieved by Dr. Lee and his team not only opens doors to advancements in energy storage but also paves the way for scalable and sustainable solutions that can meet the demands of various industries. By continuously pushing the boundaries of innovation, they aspire to contribute to a greener and more economically viable future.

Source: National Research Council of Science & Technology

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