November 12, 2009–ITRI (Industrial Technology Research Institute), Taiwan’s largest high-tech research and development institution, has introduced STOBA (self-terminated oligomers with hyper-branched architecture), which it says is the first nano-based material technology to enhance the safety of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.
Li-ion batteries, the power source for many consumer electronic devices, including cell phones, laptops, MP3 players, cameras, and hybrid and electric cars, are often the most unstable electronic component, as they are susceptible to overheating, which can cause fires and explosions.
By integrating a nano-grade polymer, which forms a protective film (much like a nano-grade fuse) into the Li-ion battery, a locking effect is generated when the battery encounters excessive heat, external impact, or piercing, and interrupts the electrical and chemical action, thereby preventing explosions.
ITRI says STOBA has passed mandatory shorting and piercing experiments conducted in 2008 and 2009 by battery manufacturers in Japan and Taiwan. The intensive nail penetration and impact tests, ITRI claims, confirmed STOBA’s effectiveness in preventing internal shorting and overheating in Li-ion batteries.
Besides its safety features, STOBA also is designed to extend the life of the Li-ion battery by about 20%, or an additional two years, due to the nano-grade STOBA film that stabilizes the electrode material at high temperatures (55 degrees Celsius).
Led by Dr. Alex Peng, senior research scientist and deputy general director at ITRI’s Material and Chemical Research Laboratories (MCL), R&D of STOBA began in 2004. After years of repeated experiments and adjustments, Peng and his team discovered the nano-grade STOBA material technology. The researchers found that the material’s heat-resistant, fair bonding and flexible qualities allow Li-ion batteries to gain redundancy time and reach twelve sigma, which generates the locking mechanism when they short and generate unstable temperatures.
ITRI has applied for 29 patents for the STOBA technology in five countries — the United States, Taiwan, Korea, China and Japan.