Spying on batteries while they work

By Stephanie Holinka

Photography By Randy Montoya

Friday, July 05, 2019

Sandia Talks series features Labs-wide research and ideas

Eric Sorte in battery testing lab
KEEP ON TICKING — Sandia materials scientist Eric Sorte is working to help battery researchers understand what goes on in a battery during operation. He spoke about his work during the Sandia Talks series in June.

Materials science researcher Eric Sorte discussed how his work seeks to help researchers understand what goes on in a battery during operation in his recent talk to employees, “How to See What’s Happening Inside a Battery Without Disturbing It,” part of the June Sandia Talks series.

When Eric started at Sandia in 2016, he focused on fuel-cell components, working on new ideas for energy-storage-device components, such as fuel cell membranes and batteries.

“Improved battery technology has made possible the ubiquity of personal electronics from cell phones to laptops, and has changed the world in the last 30 years,” Eric said. “But despite the improvements and innovations of the last several decades, batteries are not yet where they need to be for power grid storage or transportation.”

Eric was awarded a Laboratory Directed Research and Development grant to develop new in-situ nuclear magnetic resonance technologies to monitor and diagnose batteries during charge and discharge cycles without having to tear them apart. That work will continue via a new Grand Challenge LDRD, focused on customized lithium batteries, that will start this fall.

“Only with better batteries can renewable energies be utilized optimally, and research projects such as this one get us ever closer to that goal,” Eric said.

Eric completed his doctorate at the University of Utah in 2011, followed by post-doctorials at Washington University in Saint Louis and at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

The Sandia Talks series began in 2016 and features 15-minute talks that highlight significant research and ideas from around the Labs. Labs employees can view Eric’s talk and others at the Sandia Talks SharePoint site.