Uncovering New Insights With Machine Learning: The Promise of Solid-State Battery Materials

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A team of researchers from Duke University and their collaborators have recently opened a new window into the world of energy storage for applications such as household battery walls and fast-charging electric vehicles. Through their machine learning approach, they have successfully identified the atomic mechanisms that make argyrodites, a class of compounds, highly attractive candidates for both solid-state battery electrolytes and thermoelectric energy converters.

As part of the move towards a renewable energy future, many research labs are searching for alternatives to the current lithium-ion battery. Such batteries use liquid electrolytes which can have a low efficiency and an affinity for accidentally catching fire. Argyrodites, on the other hand, have a higher energy density and are much safer and more stable.

The Duke team looked at one possible candidate made of silver, tin and selenium (AgSnSe). Using state-of-the-art neutron and X-ray methods, they were able to gain an understanding of the material’s behavior at the atomic level. Mayanak Gupta, a postdoc in the team and now a researcher at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center in India, also developed a machine learning approach to simulate the data.

The experiments revealed that the tin and selenium form a stable crystalline structure which provides an environment that the charged silver ions can move about in. It is almost as if the silver is in a liquid-like state despite the solid metal lattice. This kind of finding is incredibly helpful to researchers as it can potentially lead to fast charging, longer lasting electric vehicles, all delivered in a much safer way.

Duke University is a private research university located on the eastern coast of North Carolina. It was founded in 1838 and is consistently ranked one of the top universities in the U.S. in terms of research, academics and overall student satisfaction.

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Olivier Delaire is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Duke University. He has an extensive background in teaching, research and engineering, and his work in energy storage systems has been critical to the development of argyrodites. Delaire and his team are committed to exploring all viable options when it comes to creating safe, efficient and cost-effective energy storage solutions.

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