St Anne’s Fellow, Professor Saiful Islam, receives major funding from the Faraday Institution for research into cathode materials which could increase the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries

We are pleased to share the news that a project led by Professor Saiful Islam, St Anne’s Fellow and Professor at the University of Oxford’s Department of Materials, has secured major funding from the Faraday Institution.

Professor Islam leads the CATMAT project into high energy density, sustainable cathode materials. The project also includes researchers from the universities of Bath, Birmingham, Cambridge, Liverpool and UCL.

The CATMAT project is researching next-generation cathode materials that could significantly increase the energy density of lithium-ion batteries.

There is an urgent need to increase the range of electric vehicles (EVs) by developing battery materials that can store more charge at higher voltages, achieving a higher energy density. The biggest performance gains for EV lithium ion batteries in the near-term are likely to arise from changing the chemistry of the cathode. CATMAT is investigating the fundamental mechanisms acting within cathodes that currently prevent the use of nickel-rich cathode materials (with low/ no cobalt) and lithium-rich cathodes. Ultimately, this understanding could be applied to develop oxygen-redox cathode materials, where charge is stored not just on the transition metal ions but also on the oxide ions. The CATMAT team have already achieved significant breakthroughs in understanding oxygen-redox processes involved in lithium-rich cathode materials, through the use of cutting-edge methods and facilities (including the state-of-the art Diamond Light Source at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus).

The new funding will support a focused work package, the aims of which include:

The funding is part of a £19 million investment to support key battery research projects that have the potential to deliver significant beneficial impact for the UK.

Professor Islam said: “We are grateful to the Faraday Institution for the ongoing support of the CATMAT project. This additional funding will allow us to build upon our successful progress towards understanding and developing solutions to the scientific barriers that are hindering the use of lithium-rich cathode materials for EV battery applications.”

The CATMAT project is one of two at the University which have received funding — you can read about the other, and more about the Faraday Institution, here.