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Balsara wins prestigious 2008 R&D 100 award

Yuan T. Lee
Professor Nitash Balsara

July 11, 2008

One of R&D Magazine's prestigious R&D 100 Awards for 2008, which recognize the 100 most significant proven technological advances of the year, has gone to chemical engineering professor Nitash Balsara and colleagues at the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Balsara and colleagues won the award for nanostructured polymer electrolyte for rechargeable lithium batteries.

The technology introduces a radically new architecture with a potential to enable electric battery-driven transportation technology. The nanostructured polymer electrolyte exhibits high ionic conductivity, but can be engineered to be mechanically rigid, therefore resisting the growth of dendrites when contacted with a lithium metal electrode.

Dendrite growth has prevented the commercialization of rechargeable batteries with a lithium metal anode. Batteries made with the nanostructured polymer electrolyte are also inherently safe because they lack liquids and flammable components, which prevent thermal runaway.

In addition, products of side reactions cannot circulate and amplify within the cell. Solid-state lithium-ion batteries made possible by Berkeley Labs nanostructued polymer electrolyte are expected to meet the energy density goal established by the Department of Energy for electric vehicles the highest hurdle for battery technology.

The R&D 100 Award-winning technologies were nominated by Berkeley Lab's Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Management Department. All winners of the 2008 award will receive a plaque at R&D Magazine's formal awards banquet in Chicago on October 16.

The technology has been licensed to the start-up company Seeo Inc., located in Berkeley, CA.

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