MoO3 has shown promise as a cathode material that can extend the upper limit of operating temperature of rechargeable lithium thin-film electrochemical cells. Cells of this type are undergoing development for use as energy sources in cellular telephones, wireless medical sensors, and other, similarly sized portable electronic products. The LiCoO2 and LiMn2O4 cathodes heretofore used in these cells exhibit outstanding cycle lives (of the order of hundreds of thousands of cycles) at room temperature, but operation at higher temperatures reduces their cycle lives substantially: for example, at a temperature of 150 °C, cells containing LiCoO2 cathodes lose half their capacities in 100 charge/discharge cycles.

The Specific Capacities and Cycle Lives of cells containing LiCoO2 and MoO3 cathodes at a temperature of 150°C were measured in charge/discharge cycling at a current density of 0.7 mA/cm2

The superiority of MoO3 as a cathode material was demonstrated in experiments on lithium thin-film cells fabricated on glass slides. Each cell included a layer of Ti (for adhesion to the glass slide), a patterned layer of Pt that served as a cathode current collector, a cathode layer of MoO3, a solid electrolyte layer of Li3.3PO3.8N0.22 (“LiPON”), and an anode layer of Li. All the layers were deposited by magnetron sputtering except for the Li layer, which was deposited by thermal evaporation.

These cells, along with similar ones containing LiCoO2 cathodes, were subjected to several tests, including measurements of specific capacity in charge/discharge cycling at a temperature of 150 °C. The results of these measurements, plotted in the figure, showed that whereas specific capacity of the cells containing LiCoO2 cathodes faded to about half its initial value after only 100 cycles, the specific capacity of the cells containing the MoO3 cathodes faded only slightly during the first few hundred cycles and thereafter not only recovered to its initial value but continued to increase up to at least 5,500 cycles.

This work was done by William West and Jay Whitacre of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at  under the Materials category.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

Innovative Technology Assets Management
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Refer to NPO-41099, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
MoO3 Cathodes for High-Temperature Lithium Thin-Film Cells

(reference NPO-41099) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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