VIRTUAL MSE Department Seminar with Travis Thompson: Solid State Battery Research at Umicore

Date(s) - 8 Nov 2021
3:20 PM - 4:10 PM


Headshot photo of Travis ThompsonSpeaker: Travis Thompson, Program Manager of Solid-State Batteries at Umicore

Title: Solid State Battery Research at Umicore

Abstract: Lithium ion batteries (Li-ion) based on liquid electrolytes and graphite anodes are the current dominate technology for many applications. Incremental improvements to Li-ion will continue into the next decade but a practical upper limit for the performance and cost will be reached which is insufficient for some applications.

Replacement of the liquid electrolyte by a solid is well identified in the literature as a promising means (so called solid-state batteries, SSB) to enable higher energy cell chemistries, improve safety, and simplify the design requirements at the systems level. With these benefits, the practical upper limits can be moved into acceptable ranges for most applications.

However, technological demonstration of high quality SSB devices is not commonplace in the literature. For example, cells are often limited in capacity, have rapid cycle fading, must operate at elevated temperatures, amongst others. Often, the origin of these limitations is driven by needs for better materials and processing.

Umicore is a materials company supplying cathode active materials for the lithium ion industry and is actively researching several advanced battery concepts. This talk will highlight some current activities around materials for solid-state batteries.

Bio: Travis Thompson received his BS in Mechanical Engineering From California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in 2010 and his PhD in Materials Science from Michigan State University in 2014. His PhD work focused on advanced ceramic materials synthesis and processing for aerogel, thermoelectric, and solid electrolyte materials. After his PhD he worked as a post-doc at the University of Michigan where he developed solid-state battery devices, which lead to the formation of a start-up in 2017 to commercialize the technology where he lead the technology development. While at the University of Michigan, he also worked at the Energy Institute battery piloting facility where he helped external customers to fabricate custom solid-state battery cells. In 2019, he joined Umicore in Corporate Research and Development as a Project Manager in solid-state batteries and in 2020 became responsible for the research program. He is author on 25 publications and 16 patents as well as being named on Forbes 30 under 30 list in 2017.

Seminar Host: Steve Martin

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