Green, high-performing and safe batteries based on abundant materials are a key element in the transition to a carbon-neutral future. However, to accelerate their development, a deep understanding of the complex electro-chemo-mechanical processes within the battery is required, which is only accessible through advanced experimental and computational methods. Zero-excess solid-state batteries, where the anode is formed in situ, have emerged as a promising new generation of environmentally friendly batteries with high energy density, improved safety and higher cost-efficiency, but only after solutions for non-uniform anode formation were found.
In OPERA, seven leading research institutions, two synchrotron radiation facilities, a small-medium sized enterprise and a large technological company, all from complementary research fields such as batteries, surface and material science, and multiscale modelling, propose a unique strategy to face the current challenges of this technology. OPERA relies on the development of novel operando experimental techniques at the ESRF, ALBA and DESY synchrotrons and at the lab-scale, providing complementary information on multiaxial stress fields, chemical composition, nucleation and growth kinetics, structural defect formation and degradation of well-defined model cells with a resolution down to the atomic scale. The new insights and collected multiparameter data will be incorporated into a novel multiscale modelling approach supported by machine learning algorithms. This will ultimately lead to a conceptual understanding of the in-situ anode formation and, based on this, innovative improvement approaches to enable this type of energy storage technology, which will be an important step towards increasing the global competitiveness, resilience and independence of the EU.