PSI's Applied Research Activities

May 04, 2017

PSI's recent growth involves applied research in new areas as well as demonstrations moving our technology from the lab to the marketplace. Research in a wide diversity of technical disciplines is a hallmark of PSI.

Beginning with this newsletter, and for the next series of newsletters, we will feature a single technology. In this issue, we highlight increased performance high-energy density batteries. In June's newsletter, we will highlight diagnosing the causes of skin cancer.

PSI's Improved Next-Generation Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Batteries

Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) is improving the quality, lifetime and safety of next-generation rechargeable lithium-ion batteries by developing and employing a multitude of novel materials, components and cell architectures. The Material and Energy Technologies group, led by Dr. Christopher Lang, has made several advances to provide efficient high-energy sources of portable power for specific military applications. Unique materials and techniques enable novel lithium-ion cell designs that reduce cost and significantly enhance safety and performance over commercial off-the-shelf technologies. Over the past decade, PSI has developed novel anode, cathode, electrolyte, and separator materials, which have been scaled up and constructed into Ampere-hour size demonstration cylindrical and pouch cells.

battery scale up

Novel PSI battery technologies are scaled up and integrated into demonstration lithium-ion cells at PSI and its partners

PSI has developed a novel high active (HA) material-coating technology under a PSI IRAD program. This rapid, low cost coating technology increases the electrical and ionic conductivity at the surface of the anode and cathode active materials used in state-of-the-art and next generation lithium-ion cells. The HA coating enables:

• Increased active material content to 98-99% from commercial standards of 92-95%, while also eliminating the need for high surface area carbons.
• Reduction in the binder content.
• Increased electrode density, allowing for increased rate performance at a given loading.
• Reduction in the amount of electrode processing solvent, drying times and overall production cost.
• Stable high voltage performance, thereby increasing the achievable cell level energy density.

These performance advantages enable the HA coating technology to increase the performance of lithium-ion cells while simultaneously lowering the manufacturing cost.

Under current Phase II SBIR support from the Department of Energy (DOE), PSI is leveraging this technology and a novel anode current collector technology to develop lithium-ion cells that offer a 25% increase in energy density over the state-of-the-art. During this program, PSI has demonstrated the ability to construct high performance lithium-ion cells using HA coated cathode materials. PSI is working with both Argonne National Laboratories and a small U.S. manufacturer of lithium ion batteries to produce high performance HA cathode electrodes. These efforts have demonstrated the reduction in solvent that can be achieved using PSI's HA coating technology and highlights the ability to transition the technology into large scale production. PSI has demonstrated the ability to scale the HA coating process and support the construction of hundreds of 3+Ah cells.

PSI has demonstrated equivalent cycling and rate performance for cells with PSI's HA NCM-622 electrode and a conventionally produced NCM-622. These cells have been fully cycled more than 1700 times with 90% retention of the initial capacity. This exceeds the USABC's typical EV cell and system level cycle life goals of 1000 cycles. Overall, the PSI HA cells have completed more than 2200 total cycles with less than 15% fade in performance.

HA cathode

Cells with the PSI HA cathode delivered equivalent performance to cells constructed with a conventional cathode electrode.

HA NCM-622 Pouch

Extended 100% depth of discharge cycling of a PSI HA NCM-622 pouch cell

Independently, PSI has utilized the HA technology to build custom batteries for its InstantEye® Mk2 Gen3 sUAS that offer increased rate and energy density performance. Testing in a vehicle has demonstrated the cells are able to meet the power requirements while delivering increased energy density. 5+Ah HA pouch cells built for the sUAS application delivered 268Wh/kg on operation at 1C. Upon indoor vehicle testing, the batteries delivered 47% more energy than is achievable for the current commercial batteries. Ongoing efforts are focused on further evaluating this battery and the multitude of other Li-ion cell advances currently under development at PSI.

HA battery mounted

PSI HA battery alone and mounted in a vehicle for testing

Physical Sciences Leases 33,000 SF Office at 6 Riverside Drive in Andover, MA

The lease at 6 Riverside Drive represents continued expansion of Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) and its Tactical Robotics Division, manufacturer of the InstantEye® line of Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. PSI has its corporate headquarters at 20 New England Business Center, also in Andover.

6 Riverside Drive

6 Riverside Drive, Andover, MA

B. David Green, President & CEO of PSI said "We are seeing significant growth in the sales of our family of InstantEye® Micro Air Vehicles for both military and civil applications. The InstantEye® systems are already being used extensively by our military around the world saving lives and enabling successful outcomes. This success reflects the innovation, hard work and dedication of our employees. Small Business Innovative Research funding played an essential role in developing and demonstrating this technology."

Demand for InstantEye® systems is growing rapidly and this expansion into a new production R&D facility on Riverside Drive will accommodate that growth here in Massachusetts. We considered many locations, but decided to also locate this new facility in Andover near our Headquarters. The InstantEye® production activity will be operational in its new location early this summer." To learn more about InstantEye®, visit

Executive Director Michael Dalton of Cushman & Wakefield represented Physical Sciences Inc., while Senior Vice President Rob Cronin and Vice President Ken Oppenheim of Lincoln Property Company represented the landlord, Q Investments.

"We are pleased to have represented ownership in this significant lease transaction bringing the building's occupancy to 100 percent," said Cronin. “This is an ideal site for Physical Sciences Inc. and we are pleased to accommodate their growth as they expand within Andover.”

“This is a great win for all involved and special thanks to the Town of Andover who worked hard to make sure PSI stayed in Andover,” said Dalton. “It’s a great story given that PSI is developing innovative tools for our warfighters.”

6 Riverside Drive is a 77,048 SF flex building located in Andover, MA just minutes from I-93 and 495.

Contract News

PSI recently received the following research contracts:

"Compact LWIR LIDAR for Aircraft Survivability " from the U.S. Army

"Compressive Sensing Flash IR 3D Imager" from the U.S. Army Research Office

For more PSI contract news, visit