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Why lithium-ion-batteries fail
Date:10/19/2013

t deformation of the electrode demonstrates that the polymer binder that holds the electrode together is not yet optimized for high volume expansion materials. This is critical for battery performance because deformation of the binder causes individual particles to become disconnected from the electrode and the battery looses capacity.

In addition to demonstrating that x-ray tomographic microscopy provides insight into morphological changes in the particles and electrodes, the researchers show that this technique can also be used to obtain quantitative and spatially resolved chemical information. For example, the researchers analyze chemical composition throughout the battery electrode to look at differences in lithiation dynamics at the single particle level and compare this to the average particle behavior. This approach is essential to understanding the influence of particle size, shape, and electrode homogeneity on battery performance.

Such insights into the operation of a battery would not be possible without the highly advanced x-ray tomography setup at the Swiss Light Source. "Visualizing batteries in operation was essentially impossible until recent advances in x-ray tomography. Thanks to the world class facilities developed by Professor Stampanoni and his team, we can watch the battery at work," adds Wood enthusiastically.

Alternatives to crystalline materials

The researchers chose crystalline tin oxide as a model material because it undergoes a series of complex transformations also present in other materials, enabling deeper understanding into the behavior of a variety of battery materials. The insights provide the basis for developing new electrode materials and electrode structures that are tolerant to volume expansion. For Prof. Wood the results of this work indicate the benefit of using amorphous or nanostructured materials instead of crystalline ones. "On the quest for new materials, one must also bear in
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Contact: Vanessa Wood
wood@iis.ee.ethz.ch
41-446-326-654
ETH Zurich
Source:Eurekalert  

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