Lubricant-Impregnated Surfaces for Electrochemical Applications, Devices and Systems

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Professor Kripa Varanasi
Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT
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Professor Yet-Ming Chiang
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, MIT
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Brian Solomon
Department of Mechanical Engineering, MIT
Xinwei Chen
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, MIT
Managed By
Christopher Noble
MIT Technology Licensing Officer - Clean and Renewable Energy
Patent Protection

Lubricant-Impregnated Surfaces for Electrochemical Applications, and Devices and Systems Using Same

US Patent Pending 2015-0372350


Lubricant-Impregnated Surfaces (LISs) can be used in a variety of applications from batteries to capacitor fabrication. For example, in flow batteries, controlled flow of the electrolyte and friction along the cell walls is very important. Introducing an LIS in this system increases controllability of electrolyte flow by minimizing the friction.

Problem Addressed

Controlling flow and slipperiness is important to electromechanical device function and/or manufacturing. For example, capacitors are manufactured by filling an electrode cavity with a flowable electrode. An LIS would lower the driving pressure necessary to flow. Previous methods for slipperiness in electromechanical devices focused on superhydrophobic surfaces. Superhydrophobic surfaces are composed of solid and air; however, LISs are composed of solid and liquid lubricant, which makes them more robust and self-healing.


In order to form an LIS, first the lubricant must spontaneously impregnate the wall texture. Impregnation is, in short, dictated by the surface tension of the lubricant, surface tension of the solid, and the roughness of the solid. The solid is created through photolithography or chemical etching. For battery applications, the battery components (e.g. electrolyte, electrodes) must be substantially immiscible to establish a well-defined interphase with the lubricant. Additionally, the lubricant must be electrochemically and thermodynamically stable when mixed with any of the components of the electrochemical device. Using these conditions and methods, a lubricant impregnated surface is created and can be implemented in any electrochemical device where surface slipperiness is important. Finally, the LIS can be designed and selected to provide electronic or ionic or diffusional transport properties (e.g. LIS on a current collector, LIS on a separator structure).


  • Increases slipperiness in electrochemical devices
  • Increases efficiency of electrochemical device function and/or manufacturing