Researchers from Toyota are using neutrons at the Spallation Neutron Source, located at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to study the fundamental internal chemical reaction taking place in a newly developed electrolyte material they hope will one day lead to better batteries for a wide array of electronic applications. 

“The electrolyte is the material used to transport ions in the battery, and we want to know the relationship between the ions’ movement and solvation structure to develop better electrolytes,” said Kensuke Takechi from the Toyota Research Institute of North America. 
The electrolyte is an essential battery component that typically consists of a salt and multiple solvents. The precise combination of ingredients determines the power, lifetime, and safety properties of batteries. 
Aiming to achieve a better balance of those properties, the Toyota team is using the VISION instrument, SNS beam line 16B, to investigate molecular scale coordination in the liquid by analyzing an electrolyte they developed called “molten redox.” Neutrons help the researchers better understand the behavior of each component in the liquid mixture. 
“With neutrons, we can investigate the intermolecular interactions of the different components in electrolyte solutions and at a depth that is hard to probe by other techniques,” said fellow researcher Ruidong Yang. “The generated results will be very valuable in directing our future efforts.”
SNS is a US Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility. UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the DOE’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit