New imaging techniques track lithium-ion reactions in real-time, offering clues to engineering more powerful, longer-lasting batteries
Story content courtesy of Brookhaven National Laboratory, US
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory and collaborating institutions have developed methods of examining lithium-ion reactions in real-time with nanoscale (billionths of a meter) precision, offering unprecedented insights into these crucial materials. The technique uses a novel electrochemical cell and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to track lithium reactions and precisely expose subtle changes that occur in batteries’ electrodes over time. The recently-published results demonstrate the successful technique and reveal a surprisingly fast lithium conversion process that moves layer-by-layer through individual nanoparticles.
“We’ve opened a fundamentally new window into this popular technology,” said Brookhaven Lab physicist and lead author Feng Wang. “The live, nanoscale imaging may help pave the way for developing longer-lasting, higher-capacity lithium-ion batteries. That means better consumer electronics, and the potential for large-scale, emission-free energy storage.”
In this study, conducted at Brookhaven Lab’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials, the scientists custom-built an electrochemical cell to operate inside the TEM.
“The entire setup for the in-situ TEM measurements was assembled from commercially available parts and was simple to implement, so we expect to see a widespread use of this technique to study a variety of high-energy electrodes in the near future,” Wang said. “We also look forward to adapting this tool to perform more advanced nano-electrochemical measurements with the x-ray nanoprobe at the Lab’s forthcoming National Synchrotron Light Source II.”
This work was supported by the Center for Functional Nanomaterials at Brookhaven.
Subscribe to our mailing list, and we'll keep you posted of the latest developments.