Sodium-Ion Batteries: Breakthrough Materials Research

Sodium-ion batteries have emerged as a promising alternative to Lithium-ion batteries, owing to their availability and cost-efficiency. The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is at the forefront of this research. Their focus is on enhancing battery performance and extending battery lifetime through computer-based simulations.

Research by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

The KIT team, led by Dr. Simon Daubner, utilizes microstructural models to discover and investigate new electrode materials. They have found that using sodium-nickel-manganese oxide as a cathode material can reveal significant insights. Simulations show modifications in the crystal structure during charging. These modifications can lead to elastic deformation, resulting in a decrease in capacity.

Sodium-Ion Batteries: A Sustainable Solution

Sodium-ion batteries offer several advantages. They are based on raw materials that are easily accessible in Europe. This makes them suitable for both stationary and mobile applications. Layered oxides, like sodium-nickel-manganese oxides, show great potential as cathode materials. These materials facilitate similar functionalities to Lithium-ion batteries but with a more sustainable and cost-effective approach.

Fast Charging and Mechanical Stress

However, rapid charging poses a challenge. Sodium-nickel-manganese oxides change their crystal structure based on the sodium stored. When charged slowly, the process is well-ordered. Sodium exits layer by layer, reducing stress on the material. But fast charging extracts sodium from all sides, causing mechanical stress that may permanently damage the material. The findings were reported in the journal npj Computational Materials.

Experiment and Simulation Alignment

To examine these effects, researchers from KIT’s Institute of Nanotechnology (INT) and IAM-MMS collaborated with Ulm University and the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW). They used a combination of microstructural models and slow charge/discharge experiments. These studies confirmed that rapid charging causes several degradation mechanisms, leading to capacity loss.

Implications of the Study

This research contributes significantly to the understanding of battery technology. By examining the NaXNi1/3Mn2/3O2 material, researchers identified the key factors affecting charge time and capacity retention. The insights gained can be applied to develop more robust battery materials. As Dr. Daubner notes, understanding these basic processes paves the way for creating long-lasting, quick-charging sodium-ion batteries. With continued research, we could see widespread adoption of sodium-ion batteries within the next decade.


The study highlights the innovative work being done at KIT to advance battery technology. By focusing on sodium-ion batteries, researchers aim to develop sustainable and efficient energy storage solutions. This research not only addresses the current needs but also sets the foundation for future advancements in battery materials.

For more details, refer to the original publication: Simon Daubner et al., npj Computational Materials, 2024, DOI: 10.1038/s41524-024-01258-x.

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