Nanomechanics of Electrodeposited Li

Project Term:
08/25/2017 - 08/24/2018

Critical Need:

Demand for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries has increased significantly as products such as smartphones, laptops, electric vehicles, and grid storage batteries rise in popularity. One way to surpass lithium-ion batteries in energy per unit mass and volume, which is desirable for many applications, is to replace one of the lithium-ion electrodes (graphite) with lithium metal itself. However, the formation of lithium dendrites during charge/discharge cycling has been a persistent problem. Dendrites are tiny branchlike metal fibers that can short-circuit battery cells and cause catastrophic failures. Suppressing dendrite nucleation and growth remains a tremendous challenge, and would greatly benefit from a thorough understanding of the mechanical properties of electrodeposited lithium metal. Precise measurement of these properties may lead to advanced methods to combat dendrite growth and improve battery longevity, safety, and designs that significantly surpass existing lithium-ion cells in energy per unit mass and volume.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

The team at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has developed a method to determine the mechanical properties of lithium as a function of size, temperature, and microstructure. The body of scientific knowledge on these properties and the way dendrites form and grow is very limited, in part due to the reactivity of metallic lithium with components of air such as water and carbon dioxide. The team proposes to conduct a targeted investigation on the properties of electrodeposited lithium metal in commercial thin-film solid-state batteries. As part of the effort, the team will perform structural and mechanical testing on electrodeposited lithium, at dendrite-relevant dimensions. Their investigation will provide new information on the microstructure, strength, and stiffness of electrodeposited lithium. Finally, they will conduct cycling experiments on the commercial cells to observe lithium transport and dendrite nucleation and growth. If successful, the project will result in new knowledge about the microstructure and properties of lithium, and may further our understanding of dendrite nucleation and growth mechanisms - a starting point to developing higher energy battery technologies.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Paul Albertus
Project Contact:
Dr. Julia Greer
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


University of California - Irvine

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