Today’s micro-battery technology faces challenges in meeting the demands of devices with highly constrained volumes and unique shapes, particularly in application domains such as smart medical devices, including ingestibles, wearables, and implantables. A significant portion, up to 40%, of the device volume is allocated to the battery, limiting available space for crucial functional components. Despite the desire to incorporate advanced sensing and actuation capabilities into these devices, a major bottleneck persists in finding a suitable energy supply that can be molded into various forms to maximize the limited available volume. MESH-BAT aims to overcome the battery barrier for such applications by developing a high-energy-density, small-area 2.5D Li-based solid-state cell that integrates three essential components. This involves combining innovative 3D nanomesh current collectors with thin-film cathode coatings, a thin Li-metal anode, and a solid polymer electrolyte. The envisioned metallic nanomesh serves as an electronically conducting scaffold, ensuring electrical contact and providing mechanical reinforcement within the cathode. This nanomesh concept allows for the utilization of next-generation cathode materials that are challenging to use in bulk form but can be applied as nanocoatings in this context. Adjusting the nanomesh thickness enhances footprint energy density while preserving tortuosity and facilitating Li-ion transport through the cathode. Beyond material and process development and demonstrator cell fabrication, MESH-BAT also aims to conduct a comprehensive evaluation and modeling of the electrochemical performance and mechanical durability of electrodes and cells with unconventional shapes or formats, including in-plane and out-of-plane curvatures. Through these endeavors, MESH-BAT strives to advance micro-battery technology, especially for devices with stringent volume and shape constraints, ensuring enhanced functionality and efficiency in smart medical applications.
Several groups operating within EnergyVille are part of the MESH-BAT project. Each group focuses on innovative approaches to address challenges in the field of energy applications and materials synthesis. The DESINE group, led by Prof. M. Van Bael and Prof. A. Hardy at UHasselt – IMO-imomec, specializes in environmentally friendly and sustainable chemical synthesis processes. Their primary focus is on the development of high-tech inorganic cathode nanomaterials. The Electrochemical Engineering group headed by Prof. M. Safari at UHasselt – IMO-imomec, will focus on cell integration and modeling, providing valuable insights into these electrochemical processes. The ‘Energy Storage & Conversion,’ group led by Prof. P. Vereecken at Imec focuses on materials and processes for energy storage in batteries and energy conversion into useful chemicals. Their contributions are primarily centered around developing new processes for producing thicker nanomesh layers and improving control over pore structure.