Faculty of Engineering

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Research Highlights

Path finding to future batteries

Nobody knows anything about the distant future, but we can think about the near future. We can imagine how we might make the world shine more beautifully. We can dream of what to build in order to change the world for the better. Energy is one of the key elements to achieving that future. 

Today, almost everything we interact with consumes power, from the cars in the street to the smartphones in our pockets. Many of these devices are mobile, meaning that they require some form of battery to provide them with energy. In Dr. Kishida’s laboratory at Kyoto University of Advanced Science, he and his students are working to create batteries that charge faster, last longer, and cost less. 

Creating new materials is essential for developing new batteries. Dr. Kishida’s research focuses on the discovery and creation material development methods via computer simulation. By reproducing physical phenomena and chemical reactions in a computer, it is possible estimate the performance of many substances, including those which humanity has not yet even acquired. However, raw computing power is not enough; intelligent calculation methods must be applied to achieve results. 

When developing battery materials, one of the challenges is learning how ions flowing through a substance. Dr. Kishida has developed a new method of mapping these atomic pathways by combining his materials calculations with graph theory, a field of mathematics. This method was applied to a super-ionic α-AgI conductor which demonstrated much higher ionic conduction than even that of liquid. Thus, the ionic conduction mechanisms of α-AgI were clearly revealed. 
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Dr. Kishida is also applying his ionic conduction theories to electrode and electrolyte materials for lithium-ion batteries. These results will contribute to near-future improvements in these technologies. However, the professor’s true ambition is to develop a next-generation battery to replace lithium-ion cells, thereby ushering in a new era in mobile energy. This will likely involve batteries that use multivalent ions, such as magnesium ion (Mg2+) and aluminium ion (Al3+). These batteries will likely have storage capacities twice or three times the size of contemporary lithium ion (Li+) cells. 

At present, it is difficult to find a suitable material for a multivalent-ion battery. However, a substance which meets these requirements is believed to exist. Thus, Dr. Kishida continues his search for ways to make the future a brighter one.