Optimization of batteries through transformational control of electron transfer and redox reactions in materials


The work of UltraBat - Capturing Ultrafast Electron and Ion Dynamics in Batteries - is centred around ultrafast (femtoseconds to nanoseconds) X-ray experiments using synchrotrons and XFELs, with a focus on charge injection, ion transfer, and structural dynamics in realistic and model systems for Li-rich compounds.

Project UltraBat is generously funded for 4 years by EU Horizon RIA with partners in Denmark, Germany, and France.

Read about the consortium here

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Project description


Despite decades of research, a persistent fundamental knowledge gap prevents batteries from fulfilling their potential, because the atomistic mechanisms of charge and ion transfer across interfaces in batteries remain largely unexplored by experimental techniques.

When charges move, the local arrangement of atoms changes in response to the new electronic configuration. How these changes occur has a significant impact on how efficiently and how far the charges can move, yet the time and length scales are still poorly understood.

Conventional experimental probes used in battery research cannot provide the needed ultrafast time and atomic length scale resolution, nor sensitivity to changes in electronic configuration around specific atomic species. Hence, it is currently challenging to unravel the dynamic rearrangement of atoms and ions which accompany electron transfer, and in turn govern the charge transfer processes.


UltraBat will close this knowledge gap by pushing further the latest development of ultra-bright and ultra-fast X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL) scattering and spectroscopy techniques together with visible ultrafast spectroscopy to study charge transfer between different redox centres in Li-rich layered intercalation compounds and at the solid/liquid interface.

Advances in NMR spectroscopy will reveal local ordering and lithium interfacial dynamics on the nanometer scale. Coupled with predictions of experimental observables from a new framework for atomic-scale simulations of the electrochemical interface and transport mechanisms, we will reveal phenomena driving diffusion of ions in complex electrode materials.

This will provide the insight required for transformational approaches to control the redox reactions (e.g. electron transfer) that are common to many energy-related processes, including batteries, photovoltaics, and water-splitting systems.

Contact the Project Coordinator

Martin Meedom Nielsen

Martin Meedom Nielsen Professor, Deputy Director

First images of the European XFEL beam


The vision for BATTERY 2030+ is to invent the batteries of the future, providing European industry with disruptive technologies and a competitive edge across the full value chain, that will enable Europe to take the lead in battery science and technology.

Read more on battery2030.eu

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The UltraBat consortium is formed by experienced researchers from four institutions: Technical University of Denmark, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, College de France, and European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser Facility GMBH. The consortium has outstanding competences in materials modelling, synthesis and characterization of battery materials.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant number No. 101103873.