Polymer Electrolytes and Paper-based Current Collectors for Flexible Lithium Ion Battery Applications
Paper-based flexible devices represent a new frontier in electronics technology. The research has focused on the fabrication of the lightweight, and flexible paper-based lithium ion batteries. A lithium ion battery relies on the interplay of multiple components. These components themselves, as well as the processes used to create them, need to be adjusted and modified in order to achieve a fully flexible lithium ion battery. These components include the electrode current collector, active material, and electrolyte. By modifying these components to be fully flexible and resistant to damages caused by deformation, a fully flexible battery can be achieved.
Herein, the paper-based platform utilized is key to provide flexibility for the battery components. The goal of this work not only focused on the creation of a paper-based flexible battery to be used as an integrable energy storage system for flexible devices, but also on developing methodologies and processes that can advance the emerging area of paper-based electronics, where different functional units must be fabricated within a single paper substrate. The key to make effective paper-based batteries, is to achieve a highly conductive paper structure as the base. In this work, conductive nanomaterials including carbon nanotubes (CNT) and graphene were used to fabricate conductive paper, where wood microfibers were coated with layers of these nanomaterials via layer-by-layer nanoassembly. These fibers were then combined into paper sheets. The resulting paper offers a conductive and porous base for electronic devices that utilized only small quantities of CNT or reduced graphene oxide (rGO) to provide length resistances of 468 Ω/cm and 74.6 Ω/cm, respectively for each fabricated conductive paper.
Flexible lithium ion batteries were then made by using CNT paper-based electrodes and a solid polymer gel electrolyte. The electrodes were made by deposition of lithium active materials over the conductive paper and where shown to be flexible, durable, and light weight. With respect to the electrolyte, a new type of gel electrolyte based on PVDF-HFP was fabricated to overcome problems related to the use of liquid electrolytes in flexible batteries. This gel, which provides a high electrolyte uptake (450% by weight), was made by infusing both liquid and ceramic electrolytes inside a polymer gel structure and demonstrated conductivity up to 10-4 S/cm. The paper-based battery developed with these new materials has a comparable capacity to commercial batteries and represents a flexible and light weight alternative. The use of ultra-high capacity lithium compounds as cathode materials, such as vanadium pentoxide (with theoretical capacities of 440 mAh/g) in conjunction with rGO-paper as a stand-alone electrode (with a reversible capacity 546 mAh/g) were also explored and results will be discussed.
This research has led to the development of a novel method of making a fully flexible lithium ion batteries, using paper-based current collectors, leak proof polymer gel electrolytes and ultra-high capacity lithium ion active materials. Thus, flexible high conductive paper-based current collectors, polymer-gel electrolytes, vanadium based ultra-high capacity cathode electrodes, and graphene-based stand-alone paper-based anodes have been developed and tested.