Solid-State Battery Research Vision 

Over 50 years ago, physicists, ceramists and solid-state electrochemists were developing alkali metal fast ion conductors (sodium beta alumina) to enable rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles.  Although these batteries did not achieve widespread adoption, the research spawned the modern era of solid-state electrochemistry emphasizing alkali metal conducting materials research.  The rapid evolution of this field in the 1970s and 1980s inspired the development of mixed conducting cathodes (e.g. LiCoO2 and related layered compounds) for Li-ion technology. 

In the 1980s to 1990s, researchers were developing thin film batteries using LIPON. These batteries could achieve > 20,000 cycles, demonstrating a ceramic electrolyte could physically and chemically stabilize the metallic Li anode interface and, more importantly, that Li solid-state batteries work.   

In the last two decades, the discovery of several new bulk-processed fast ion conducting Li-ion solid electrolytes invigorated the field of solid-state electrochemistry.  The new generation of solid-state electrolytes includes a broad range of chemistries such as sulfides, oxides, borates, polymers and polymer composites.  Currently, room temperature Li-ion conductivities are approaching, and in some cases exceeding, that of liquid electrolytes (e.g. sulfides and polymers) and a subset of solid-state electrolytes are also stable against Li metal and stable in ambient air.  This new class of solid electrolytes comprises a new generation of solid-state electrochemistry research a half a century after the pioneering work on sodium beta alumina and several decades after the development of thin film Li metal batteries.  However, compared to previous times, the battery landscape is dramatically different today….

The demand for low cost (< $100/kWh) safe (non-flammable), high performance (> 1000 Wh/l) is unprecedented.  Governments and the auto industry are considering and preparing for a dramatic shift to supplant internal combustion engine power trains with battery-electric power trains.  Similarly, miniaturization and longer operation time between charges is pushing the limits of batteries in microelectronics. State-of-the-art Li-ion technology works extremely well and currently is the leading battery technology.  However, whether or not Li-ion can meet future energy density, safety and cost requirements remains to be determined.   Given the great need for advanced energy storage technology, and the significant role that batteries will play in shaping major technologies in the 21st century, urgency adds additional impetus to accelerate technological advancement unlike what was witnessed in past solid-state electrochemistry eras.      

Combining the knowledge and experience gained over the decades with recent materials discoveries, positions the electrochemistry, physics, materials science, mechanical engineering and manufacturing communities to push forward with a multi-faceted approach to accelerate the development of solid-state battery technology.  Though there are several fast-ion conductors, there is still a need for the continued development of single and divalent fast-ion conductors with increased stability and process-ability.  While there has been tremendous progress in achieving metal-electrolyte (solid-solid) interface resistance comparable to state-of-the-art Li-ion, cathode-electrolyte (solid-solid) interfaces still required improvements in kinetics and electrochemical and mechanical stability. As prototype cells made in laboratories demonstrate performance metrics, large-scale manufacturing becomes more and more important; yet, commercialization and manufacturing feasibility of solid-state batteries is currently unknown.  Similarly, manufacturing of thin film solid electrolytes at low cost and low energy intensity must be developed.  In addition, the experience and expertise from the fuel cell community will likely benefit efforts to develop solid-state batteries, especially with regard to ceramic processing and cell design and integration. 

Looking forward, electrochemical technologies could play a pivotal role in transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable electrical energy. Advanced batteries such as solid-state batteries are one example of a technology that is pushing the limits of conversion from chemical to electrical energy.  However, fundamental research, creativity and the sharing of ideas will be necessary to overcome the technological challenges that lie ahead.  

Department of Energy, Energy Frontier Research Center

Mechano-Chemical Understanding of Solid Ion Conductors (MUSIC)

Department of Energy graphic

There is an urgent need to electrify transportation and increase electrical grid capacity.  Owing to the higher efficiency of electrochemical systems compared to heat engines and that electricity generation is possible through renewables, there is a significant impetus to develop advanced electrochemical energy storage and generation technologies.  The widespread adoption of EVs will benefit from lower cost (<$80/kWh), higher performance (> 400 Wh/kg), safer batteries, while the electrical grid will benefit from extremely low-cost batteries (< $10/kWh) and fuel cells to store and generate electricity.  While significant progress has been made in discovering new materials that in principle could enable advanced electrochemical energy storage systems, realizing their potential still requires fundamental research and is what motivates this Department of Energy, Energy Frontier Research Center.

The recent emergence and discovery of new ceramic ion conductors (CICs) with fast ionic conductivity at near-ambient temperatures creates the opportunity to push the frontiers of electrochemical energy conversion and storage. The ability to replace traditional liquid or polymer electrolytes with ceramics has the disruptive potential to improve safety and enable next generation technologies including solid-state batteries with metal anodes, impermeable membranes to prevent crossover in redox flow batteries for long-duration energy storage (LDES), and intermediate temperature solid-oxide fuel cells to propel the hydrogen economy. Enabling the next generation of electrochemical conversion and storage, however, requires fundamental research to understand and control the emergent mechano-chemical environments that arise when CIC materials are interfaced with other dissimilar materials. The overarching scientific mission of MUSIC is to reveal, understand, model, and ultimately control the chemo-mechanical phenomena underlying the processing and electrochemical dynamics of CICs for clean energy systems. 

This mission is supported by specific hypotheses that drive the research activities. To investigate and validate these hypotheses, MUSIC galvanizes a diverse team of internationally recognized leaders spanning the fields of electrochemistry, solid mechanics, ceramic synthesis and manufacturing, in situ/operando analysis, and multi-scale computational modeling. The team consists of: the lead institution University of Michigan, Prof. Jeff Sakamoto (Director), Assoc. Prof. Neil Dasgupta (Deputy Director), Prof. Michael Thouless, Asst. Prof. David Kwabi, Prof. Katsuyo Thornton, Prof. Bart Bartlett; Purdue University, Prof. Partha Mukherjee; Georgia Tech, Assoc. Prof. Matt McDowell; Princeton University, Assoc. Prof. Kelsey Hatzell; University of Texas Austin, Profs Don Siegel and David Mitlin; University of Illinois Urbana-Champlain, Asst. Prof. Nicola Perry; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Profs. Yet-Ming Chiang and Bilge Yildiz; Northwestern University, Prof. Sossina Haile; and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Dr. Miaofang Chi.  Within the MUSIC team, the convergence of the materials science, electrochemistry, solid mechanics, and manufacturing experts has the potential to solve critical problems that are central to CICs, yet would be challenging to solve by one discipline alone. Moreover, owing to growing industry, academic, and national lab workforce needs, MUSIC emphasizes career development through frequent and close interaction among early-career, mid-career researchers, and senior researchers, along with postdoctoral fellows, graduate, and undergraduate students.     

MUSIC was created to achieve the overarching scientific mission detailed above and to meet the growing need for a concerted effort to integrate the fields of mechanics, chemistry, and electrochemistry to understand electro-chemo-mechanical phenomena underlying the synthesis and use of CICs for clean energy. The Senior Personnel in MUSIC have world-leading expertise in the areas needed to advance CIC science. Some Senior Personnel in MUSIC have engaged in close collaboration for decades, while others have been included to advance new areas within MUSIC. Connecting experiments to theory, leaders in the fields of multi-scale modeling with experience in mechano-electro-chemistry are integral to MUSIC. Augmenting the ability to better understand complex phenomena under dynamic conditions and at buried interfaces, MUSIC also includes key researchers that are advancing the state-of-the-art of in situ/operando analysis and multi-scale modeling over all relevant length and time scales. To bolster efforts to create a viable and independent energy industry, processing and manufacturing science pervades across all themes within MUSIC. Most importantly, MUSIC acknowledges the role that postdocs and students will play in enabling science within the center and in future decades. MUSIC emphasizes training and fostering the next generation of scientists through robust bylaws, activities, promotion of workforce development, and continuous focus on supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts at all levels of the center. 

National Academies Service

  1. National Academy of Sciences, Distinctive Voices Lecture, Beckman Center, Irvine, CA,, 2022.
  2. National Academy of Sciences, Chinese-American Kavli Frontiers of Science, Organizing Committee, “Battery Technologies for High Capacity Energy Storage” Beckman Center, Irvine, CA, 2022.
  3. National Academy of Sciences, Frontiers of Science: Conference Chair (US side) – Indo/US/Australia, Makassar, Indonesia, 2015.
  4. National Academy of Sciences, Frontiers of Science: Organizing Committee – Indo/US Medan, Indonesia, 2014.
  5. National Academy of Engineering, Frontiers of Engineering: Organizing Committee, “Battery anxiety” Beckman Center, Irvine, CA, 2014.
  6. National Academy of Sciences, Frontiers of Science: Invited Speaker – India/US Agra, India, 2013.
  7. National Academy of Engineering, Frontiers of Engineering: Publication in The Bridge, “Keeping up with the Increasing Demands for Electrochemical Energy storage”, sole author J Sakamoto, 2012.
  8. National Academy of Engineering, Frontiers of Engineering: Invited Speaker – Warren, MI, 2012.
  9. National Academy of Sciences, Frontiers of Science: US Delegate – Indo/US Bogor, Indonesia, 2011.

Invited Presentations

  1. Invited Speaker, Rechargeable non-aqueous metal–oxygen batteries, Faraday Discussion, York, United Kingdom, 09/2023.
  2. Keynote, “Mechano-electrochemical Phenomena and Anode-free Manufacturing of Solid-state Batteries”, Bunsen Colloquium on Solid-State Batteries, Frankfurt, Germany, 12/2022. 
  3. Invited Speaker, “Mechano-Electrochemical Phenomena and Anode free Manufacturing of Solid State Batteries”, International Conference on Advanced Lithium Batteries for Automotive Applications, Marrakesh, Morocco, 10/2022. 
  4. Plenary, “The Stability and Kinetics of the Li/Solid Electrolyte Interface”, Solid-State Ionics, Boston, MA, 07/2022.
  5. Invited Speaker, “Role of Temperature and Pressure on the Interface Behavior Between Alkali-Metal Anodes and Ceramic Solid-Electrolytes”, Gordon Conference, Ventura, CA, 02/2020. 
  6. Department Seminar, “Enabling metallic Li anodes through solid-state electrolytes”, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Materials Science, Cambridge, Massachusetts,12/2018. 
  7. Invited Speaker, “Enabling metallic Li anodes through solid-state electrolytes”, 59th Battery Symposium, Osaka, Japan, 11/2018. 
  8. Invited Speaker, “What governs the stability of the Li-LLZO interface at high current density?”, Materials Research Society, Phoenix, AZ, 04/2018. 
  9. Invited Speaker, “Ceramic electrolytes enabling all solid-state batteries”, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Batteries for Aviation and Aerospace Workshop, NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH, 07/2017. 
  10. Invited Speaker, “Keeping up with the increasing demands for electrochemical energy storage”, National Academy of Engineering, Frontiers of Engineering, Warren, MI, 09/2012. 

Public Media

  1. J Sakamoto, PBS/NOVA, to be featured on April 220Earth day.
  2. J Sakamoto, featured in the Washington Post,, 2021.
  3. J Sakamoto, UM press release on a perspective article on solid-state batteries in Joule,, 2021.
  4. J Sakamoto, CNBC, 2021.
  5. J Sakamoto, featured in The Mobilist by Steve Levine former author of The Power House, 2021.
  6. J Sakamoto, UM press release on a Nature Communication article,, 2020.
  7. J. Sakamoto, featured on Wired,, 2020.
  8. J Sakamoto, PBS/NOVA, featured on, “Search for the super battery”,, 2016.

Publications in Popular Press/Magazines

  1. J Sakamoto, Popular Mechanics, “Solid-State Batteries Are Here and They’re Going to Change How We Live”,, 2021.
  2. J Sakamoto, Popular Mechanics, “Questions With the Guy Who Knows Literally Everything About Solid-State Batteries”,, 2021.
  3. J Sakamoto, Car and Driver, “A Better Battery? A Survey of What Might Come after Lithium-Ion: Solid-State Batteries”,, 2017.
  4. J Sakamoto, MRS Bulletin, “Solid-state batteries enter EV fray”,