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ORNL group wins annual award presented by DOE

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., June 8, 1995 — A team that developed a new battery technology at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) was recently presented DOE's Division of Materials Sciences Annual Award for Significant Implication for DOE-Related Technologies.

The team, headed by Dr. John Bates of ORNL's Solid State Division, developed a thin-film battery using electrodes of lithium and noncrystalline vanadium oxide with at least two times the energy density of conventional technology. This development was possible as a result of the group's discovery in 1991 of a new lithium electrolyte, lithium phosphorus oxynitride. Electrolytes are chemical compounds that allow the conduction of ions (lithium ions in this case), but not electrons.

Advantages of the new battery technology include: .

o Batteries can be fabricated in a variety of shapes and to any required size, large or small, on virtually any type of substrate.

o They have unsurpassed specific energy and energy density.

o They are unmatched in the number of charge-discharge cycles and safety.

o Because the batteries are all solid state, no gaseous components are generated during operation, and only heat is produced in the event of a short circuit.

o There is a protective coating that not only seals the lithium anode and other cell components from air and water vapor, but also serves to encapsulate the battery and protect the substrate or nearby components from contact with lithium.

o Batteries can operate over a wider temperature range limited at the upper end only by the melting point of lithium at 180 degrees centigrade.

The battery, between five and seven micrometers thick, can be used as the power source for a number of applications, including amplifiers for transdermal electrodes, personal hazardous gas sensor cards, miniature transmitters and micromachines.

Other members of the team are Nancy Dudney, Chris Luck, Greg Gruzalski, Leo Kwak, Dan Lubben, Bo Wang, Xiaohua Yu and Agnes van Zomeran.

ORNL, one of DOE's multiprogram national research and development facilities, is managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, which also manages the Oak Ridge K-25 Site and the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant.