Pending Proposal

In 2017, the Department of Energy announced FOA-0001465, a Funding Opportunity Announcement for proposals to add "atomic-precision manufacturing" to their energy roadmap for US energy security and future economic competitiveness.  Since we have one of three known scaleable atomic-precision manufacturing methods, we decided that this was a perfect place for NSI to seek funding.

During our ongoing discussions with a researcher at a US National Laboratory about our application to EERE (Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy), our Principal Investigator chose our lithium-anode material as being the more innovative proposal.  Because of this, our submitted proposal incorporated the dilithium-binding polymer as the "demonstration" of our atomic-precision manufacturing system, rather than the continuous-path solid-phase electrolytes that we first considered.  The acceptance of this proposal will make the anode material our first product.

The specific designs will remain a trade secret until the proposal to the EERE is accepted and published.  But we can briefly describe the innovation as a dilithium-binding site on the interior polymer surface that is composed of a lithium ion site and an adjacent lithium atom site— —— hence, a "dilithium anode" for making a dilithium battery.

Because the lithium binding is taking place inside of a hollow pocket, there should be no swelling and shrinking of the anode upon charging and discharging, respectively.  This is protective towards the more brittle battery structures, specifically the solid electrolyte interface (SEI) layer.  Anode expansion in graphite anodes is substantial, and SEI cracking destabilizes lithium-ion battery lifespan.  The possibility that this can be prevented by NSI's nanopolymers is a significant innovation.

There is another potential windfall: lithium-metal batteries have roughly twice the energy capacity of lithium-ion batteries.  But this can come at a price: lithium metal can deposit on growing spikes called dendrites, which can grow to puncture other battery components (e.g., the separator membrane).  We anticipate that binding lithium metal on the inside of hollow structures will also prevent lithium dendrite growth the same way that anode expansion is prevented.  If this works, two significant battery innovations will be achieved from a single NSI design.

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