The Chemistry Behind the Prieto Battery

This patent-pending architecture is designed around a porous copper structure (copper foam), conformally coated by an ultra-thin polymer electrolyte and then surrounded by a cathode matrix. The result is a three-dimensionally structured lithium-ion battery composed of interpenetrating electrodes with extremely short Li+ diffusion distances and a power density that is orders of magnitude greater than comparable two-dimensional architectures in use today.

The use of copper antimonide (Cu2Sb) electrodeposited onto copper foam lends an unprecedented degree of stability to the anode and has already demonstrated excellent capacity over extensive cycling. Such materials and the underlying technologies lend themselves to low cost manufacturing and production scale-up.

The realization of this sophisticated battery required the development of myriad cutting-edge enabling technologies. At the heart of this product is a patent-pending technology for the fabrication of the Cu2Sb copper foam substrate. Using a novel electrodeposition method, Cu2Sb may be directly deposited without the costly requirement of further annealing or other post-treatments. This technique ensures continuous electrical contact throughout the 3D anode.

The fabrication of the electrolyte layer is accomplished through an electrochemical polymerization method – specifically designed to uniformly encapsulate the entire conductive surface of the anode. The electrolyte is conformal and very thin to allow for the subsequent interpenetration into the structure by the cathode material.  This layer is pin-hole free, which is critical for the overall performance of the battery. The strict demands on the electrolyte form the basis for additional intellectual property protection.