A size and weight of batteries in hybrid and electric cars is still a big problem to solve. In order to provide enough range, the batteries have to be large and heavy. The researchers at Penn State University are trying to solve this problem. They are trying to use polymers that are lightweight, flexible, easy to produce and able to withstand strong electric fields. On the other hand, polymers have problems with high temperatures and this is a huge issue when such batteries should be used in cars.
Therefore, the researchers were developing 2D composites of polymers and ceramic nanoparticles. That solves the problem with temperature but it concurrently lowered the stability in strong electric fields. The solution is in 3D structure called SSN-x, where separate layers of polymer-ceramic pairings are used. Boron nitride nanosheets in a c-BCB polymer matrix are utilized as an electric insulator in outer layers and composite of barium titanate nanoparticles and c-BCB is used in inner layers.
This composite is able to operate at 150 °C and according to the researchers, it is able to withstand 30,000 cycles of discharging and recharging without significant signs of degradation. The question is whether it is possible to produce this type of batteries cheaply.