Saturday, March 21, 2015

Observation of Nanoscale Processes in Lithium Batteries

B. L. Mehdi, J. Qian, E. Nasybulin, C. Park, D. A. Welch, R. Faller, H. Mehta, W. A. Henderson, W. Xu, C. M. Wang, J. E. Evans, J. Liu, J. -G. Zhang, K. T. Mueller, and N. D. Browning
Nano Lett., 2015, 15 (3), pp 2168–2173

An operando electrochemical stage for the transmission electron microscope has been configured to form a “Li battery” that is used to quantify the electrochemical processes that occur at the anode during charge/discharge cycling. Of particular importance for these observations is the identification of an image contrast reversal that originates from solid Li being less dense than the surrounding liquid electrolyte and electrode surface. This contrast allows Li to be identified from Li-containing compounds that make up the solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI) layer. By correlating images showing the sequence of Li electrodeposition and the evolution of the SEI layer with simultaneously acquired and calibrated cyclic voltammograms, electrodeposition, and electrolyte breakdown processes can be quantified directly on the nanoscale. This approach opens up intriguing new possibilities to rapidly visualize and test the electrochemical performance of a wide range of electrode/electrolyte combinations for next generation battery systems.