A metal-ceramic composite ("cermet") has been produced by a chemical reaction between a lithium compound and another metal. The cermet has advantageous physical properties, high surface area relative to lithium metal or its alloys, and is easily formed into a desired shape. An example is the formation of a lithium-magnesium nitride cermet by reaction of lithium nitride with magnesium. The reaction results in magnesium nitride grains coated with a layer of lithium. The nitride is inert when used in a battery. It supports the metal in a high surface area form, while stabilizing the electrode with respect to dendrite formation. By using an excess of magnesium metal in the reaction process, a cermet of magnesium nitride is produced, coated with a lithium-magnesium alloy of any desired composition. This alloy inhibits dendrite formation by causing lithium deposited on its surface to diffuse under a chemical potential into the bulk of the alloy.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENTAL SUPPORT
The invention described and claimed herein was made in part utilizing funds supplied by the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231. The Government has certain rights in this invention.