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Ternary-Nitride Anodes for High-Performance Lithium-Ion Batteries

Stage: Development

The expanding electric vehicle and portable electronics markets have established lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) as a prominent battery chemistry for consumer goods. Today, LIBs typically use graphite anodes with excellent cycle stability but low energy density, which can increase the costs of LIB-containing products. While other anode chemistries incorporating lithium or silicon promise LIBs with higher energy densities and lower product costs, safety and reliability concerns have kept them from widespread distribution. Researchers at NREL and Colorado School of Mines (CSM) have developed tunable ternary-nitride thin films as high-capacity anodes for energy-dense and cost-effective LIBs. This novel ternary anode chemistry exhibits a maximum reversible capacity of 1290 mAh/g—about 3.5x the specific capacity of a graphite anode—for zinc-rich films.

Compared with state-of-the-art LIB technologies, NREL and CSM’s ternary-nitride anodes exhibit a reversible specific charge capacity at least a few times that of a graphite anode for LIB batteries with a few-fold increase in gravimetric energy density. The few-fold increase in energy-storage capacity provided by this ternary-nitride LIB technology could reduce LIB battery costs for further market acceleration of electric vehicles and energy-storage solutions to cost parity. Unlike lithium-metal or silicon-based anode technologies, which promise enhanced LIB energy densities but can present significant reliability and safety concerns, these ternary-nitride anodes offer enhanced efficiency without the potential hazards and degradation mechanisms of lithium-metal or silicon anodes.

In the context of other successful ternary and higher nitride alloys, researchers at NREL and CSM have developed Zn1-xSn1+xN2 thin films as a high-capacity anode material for lithium-ion insertion, reporting a maximum reversible capacity of 1290 mAh/g and a 50-cycle capacity of 810 mAh/g. The researchers found that cation composition x in Zn1-xSn1+xN2 affects the anode’s electrochemical performance, with zinc-rich films (x = -0.2) exhibiting superior charge capacity and stoichiometric films (x = 0) demonstrating superior cycle stability.

To learn more about Ternary-Nitride Anodes for High-Capacity Lithium-Ion Batteries, please contact Erin Beaumont at:


Applications and Industries

  • Electric vehicle manufacturers and/or suppliers
  • Microgrids/balance of system
  • Personal/handheld electronics
  • Distributed energy storage on the grid


These ternary-nitride anodes can provide

  • Superior high-capacity performance in lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) over state-of-the-art graphite anodes in LIBs,
  • Reduced overall costs for batteries in consumer goods,
  • Reduced weight and volume requirements for batteries, and
  • Enhanced safety and reliability with no dendrite growth or (de)intercalation volume changes as anode degradation mechanisms.