A new method for making high-nickel and cobalt-free lithium-ion battery materials promises to increase performance for markets such as electric vehicles and grid energy storage while increasing battery density and battery life, all at lower cost. To develop the technology, Yiguang Ju, the Robert Porter Patterson Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and his team founded the startup HiT Nano Inc. in 2018.
HiT Nano uses a novel, patented mechanism invented in Ju’s lab at Princeton called micro-aerosol controlled high temperature (MACHT) synthesis to generate nickel-cobalt-magnesium and other high-nickel nanoparticles for battery cathodes, the positively charged side of the battery that supplies current. Today’s commercial cathode manufacturing methods produce particles using a long, multi-step co-precipitation process involving mixing, precipitation, washing, drying and annealing, and it is difficult to achieve homogeneous ion implantation or doping.
In contrast, MACHT is a single-step flame synthesis process that generates a controlled particle size distribution and enables precise and homogenous ion doping and concentration-gradient formation. The resulting higher yield, lower cost and improved performance have the potential to lead to dramatic boosts in battery storage capacity and reductions in recharging times.
Team members: Jon (Jingning) Shan, co-founder and chief technology officer; Xiaofang Yang, principal scientist; Tao Fu, co-founder and chief financial officer
Collaborator: Christopher Abram, former Princeton postdoctoral researcher
Development status: HiT Nano is exclusive licensee to the patent-pending technology, and is a former tenant at Princeton Innovation Center BioLabs.
Funding: National Science Foundation