The instant invention is directed to a separator for a high energy rechargeable lithium battery and the corresponding battery. The separator includes a ceramic composite layer and a polymeric microporous layer. The ceramic layers includes a mixture of inorganic particles and a matrix material. The ceramic layer is adapted, at least, to block dendrite growth and to prevent electronic shorting. The polymeric layer is adapted, at least, to block ionic flow between the anode and the cathode in the event of thermal runaway.
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