The facilitation of ion/electron transport, along with ever-increasing demand for high-energy density, is a key to boosting the development of energy storage systems such as lithium-ion batteries. Among major battery components, separator membranes have not been the center of attention compared to other electrochemically active materials, despite their important roles in allowing ionic flow and preventing electrical contact between electrodes. Here, we present a new class of battery separator based on inverse opal-inspired, seamless nanoscaffold structure ("IO separator"), as an unprecedented membrane opportunity to enable remarkable advances in cell performance far beyond those accessible with conventional battery separators. The IO separator is easily fabricated through one-pot, evaporation-induced self-assembly of colloidal silica nanoparticles in the presence of ultraviolet (UV)-curable triacrylate monomer inside a nonwoven substrate, followed by UV-cross-linking and selective removal of the silica nanoparticle superlattices. The precisely ordered/well-reticulated nanoporous structure of IO separator allows significant improvement in ion transfer toward electrodes. The IO separator-driven facilitation of the ion transport phenomena is expected to play a critical role in the realization of high-performance batteries (in particular, under harsh conditions such as high-mass-loading electrodes, fast charging/discharging, and highly polar liquid electrolyte). Moreover, the IO separator enables the movement of the Ragone plot curves to a more desirable position representing high-energy/high-power density, without tailoring other battery materials and configurations. This study provides a new perspective on battery separators: a paradigm shift from plain porous films to pseudoelectrochemically active nanomembranes that can influence the charge/discharge reaction.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Mechanical Engineering