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Nanoscale details of electrochemical reactions in electric vehicle battery materials
Date:8/4/2014

he detailed images and spectroscopic information reveal unprecedented insight into why fast charging reduces battery capacity. At the fast charging rate, the pixel-by-pixel images show that the transformation from lithiated to delithiated iron phosphate proceeds inhomogeneously. That is, in some regions of the electrode, all the lithium ions are removed leaving only iron phosphate behind, while particles in other areas show no change at all, retaining their lithium ions. Even in the "fully charged" state, some particles retain lithium and the electrode's capacity is well below the maximum level.

"This is the first time anyone has been able to see that delithiation was happening differently at different spatial locations on an electrode under rapid charging conditions," Jun Wang said.

Slower charging, in contrast, results in homogeneous delithiation, where lithium iron phosphate particles throughout the electrode gradually change over to pure iron phosphate-and the electrode has a higher capacity.

Implications for better battery design

Scientists have known for a while that slow charging is better for this material, "but people don't want to charge slowly," said Jiajun Wang, the lead author of the paper. "Instead, we want to know why fast charging gives lower capacity. Our results offer clues to explain why, and could give industry guidance to help them develop a future fast-charge/high-capacity battery," he said.

For example, the phase transformation may happen more efficiently in some parts of the electrode than others due to inconsistencies in the physical structure or composition of the electrode-for example, its thickness or how porous it is. "So rather than focusing only on the battery materials' individual features, manufacturers might want to look at ways to prepare the electrode so that all parts of it are the same, so all particles can be involved in the reaction instead of just some," he said.'/>"/>

Contact: Karen McNulty Walsh
kmcnulty@bnl.gov
631-344-8350
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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