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Ultralight and fire-extinguishing current collectors for high-energy and high-safety lithium-ion batteries

Nature Energy

Inactive components and safety hazards are two critical challenges in realizing high-energy lithium-ion batteries. Metal foil current collectors with high density are typically an integrated part of lithium-ion batteries yet deliver no capacity. Meanwhile, high-energy batteries can entail increased fire safety issues. Here we report a composite current collector design that simultaneously minimizes the ‘dead weight’ within the cell and improves fire safety. An ultralight polyimide-based current collector (9 μm thick, specific mass 1.54 mg cm−2) is prepared by sandwiching a polyimide embedded with triphenyl phosphate flame retardant between two superthin Cu layers (~500 nm). Compared to lithium-ion batteries assembled with the thinnest commercial metal foil current collectors (~6 µm), batteries equipped with our composite current collectors can realize a 16–26% improvement in specific energy and rapidly self-extinguish fires under extreme conditions such as short circuits and thermal runaway.