Scientists at Harvard University have developed a new solid-state lithium metal battery for electric vehicles, which is expected to be fully charged within 3 minutes and last for 20 years. A related paper was recently published in the journal Nature.

Now, startup Adden Energy has announced that it has received an exclusive technology license from Harvard University’s Office of Technology Development to advance the commercialization of the technology, with the goal of shrinking the battery into a palm-sized “pouch battery” with components encapsulated in aluminum in the coating film.

The battery uses lithium in pure metal form, rather than lithium-ion, which is currently used in electric vehicle batteries on the market. Meanwhile, "solid state" refers to the use of solid electrodes and solid electrolytes, rather than the liquid or polymer gel electrolytes found in lithium-ion batteries.

In the lab, the team's prototype battery can be recharged in as fast as 3 minutes and can be cycled more than 10,000 times over its lifetime. Currently, even the best-in-class batteries have only 2,000-3,000 charge cycles, and the technology could be a "game changer," the researchers said.

The novel and sophisticated design of this new battery is inspired by the classic English sandwich. Compared with traditional lithium-ion batteries, lithium metal batteries can store much more energy in the same volume, while charging time is much less than traditional lithium-ion batteries. But they readily form "dendrites" -- tiny, rigid tree-like structures. Dendrites grow in the cell, and the needle-like protrusions are called dendrites. These structures grow into the electrolyte like roots and pierce the barrier separating the anode and cathode, potentially causing the battery to catch fire.

The sandwich-like multilayer structure prevents dendrite formation. If you imagine the battery as a sandwich, first a layer of bread (lithium metal anode), then lettuce (graphite coating), then a layer of tomatoes (first electrolyte) and a layer of bacon (second electrolyte), At the end is another layer of tomatoes and the last piece of bread (cathode). In this design, dendrites grow in "lettuce" and "tomato" but stop at "bacon". The "bacon" barrier prevents dendrites from passing through and shorting out the cell, preventing failure.

Additionally, the battery is self-healing, meaning its chemistry allows it to backfill pores created by dendrites.

The startup says the rapid development of clean energy storage technologies is critical to combating climate change. Global vehicle electrification alone is estimated to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 16%, and this "new battery model" is seen as key to achieving this goal.