Diagnosing Lithium-Ion Battery Degradation

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Researchers have developed a method to detect the degradation mechanism of lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries are extensively used for energy storage in major electronic appliances and products. This is due to their long life-cycles and high energy density. One of the major challenges related to li-ion batteries is degradation. These batteries degrade as a result of their usage and exposure to environmental conditions. This degradation affects the cells’ ability to store energy, meet power demands and, ultimately, leads to their end of life.

To eliminate the problem of degradation, scientists need to figure out what causes degradation and how these effects can be reduced. Researchers from University of Surrey, together with TESCAN Brno s.r.o (supplier of scanning electron microscopes and related charged-particle beam instruments), and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory have devised a new way to detect and investigate Li-ion’s degradation mechanisms.

The team of researchers used an integrated characterisation platform, based on dual-beam electron microscope, with the mass spectrum equipment attached to it, to directly observe inside the batteries’ electrodes. Using this platform, the team was able to study the behavior of widely-used electrodes in Li-ion batteries, and they observed the degradation take place. According to the researchers, these observations could help scientists make improvements to the performance of Li-ion batteries that can be improved in the future.

Dr. Yunlong Zhao, project co-lead from the University of Surrey, said: “If lithium-ion batteries are to meet their potential by playing an integral role in our day-to-day lives via a varied range of applications, the scientific community needs to identify and investigate the complex reactions during their degradation. Our method could be the building block that allows Li-ion batteries to improve energy density.”

Dr. Tan Sui, project co-lead from the University of Surrey, said: “Our team of talented scientists were driven by the prospect of developing a method that could someday allow Li-ion batteries to play a leading role in a greener planet. We are excited by what the future might bring.”

The research appeared in the journal Energy and Environmental Materials


 

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