Tuesday, July 16, 2024

UV/Vis Spectrophotometry: Game-Changer For Battery Tech

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The exploration of ultraviolet/visible (UV/Vis) spectrophotometry within the realm of battery technology reveals its indispensable role in enhancing our understanding and management of battery health and efficiency.

In our journey through the world of battery technology, we have discovered that ultraviolet/visible (UV/Vis) spectrophotometry is a game-changer. You might be wondering, “What exactly is that?” Well, it is a technique where light is passed through clear, liquid samples, covering the ultraviolet to visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Why is this important? It is vital for monitoring the evolution of electrolyte solutions in batteries, which is key to assessing their health and efficiency. Have you ever pondered how we can tell a battery’s health just by looking at it? It all boils down to the spectral changes over time, which unveil the degradation of electrolytes, influenced by various chemical and electrochemical reactions during the battery’s lifespan.

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By focusing on key attributes like absorption spectrum, colour, transparency, and chemical composition, UV/Vis spectrophotometry offers invaluable insights into electrolyte deterioration and its impact on battery performance. Many professionals, particularly those in quality control and research and development sectors, use this technique to align electrolyte samples with established industry colour scales, especially in the yellow spectrum, such as the yellowness index or APHA.

The quality of the electrolyte is a crucial determinant in a battery’s functionality and longevity. This is because the electrolyte plays a pivotal role in charge transport. When the electrolyte quality is subpar, the efficiency of the battery suffers. By comparing the electrolyte’s spectra at various stages of the battery’s charge and discharge cycles against a reference spectrum of a pristine electrolyte, we can effectively track its degradation. The rate of change in the UV/Vis spectra inversely correlates with the electrolyte’s lifespan, highlighting the significance of this technique in the development of longer-lasting batteries.

Electrolyte impurities and battery health

When we delve into the intricacies of lithium-ion batteries, it’s essential for both you and me to grasp the critical role that electrolyte impurities play in hampering their performance. These impurities act as barriers, obstructing the movement of lithium ions across the separator, which significantly undermines their ability to efficiently integrate into the electrodes.

What does this mean for us? We witness a marked slowdown in the battery’s charging and discharging rates, leading to a diminished lifespan. Moreover, these impurities can trigger side reactions that expedite the degradation of both electrolytes and electrodes, resulting in longer charging times and a reduced range for electric vehicles (EVs).

The pattern of batteries’ degradation varies greatly, depending on whether they employ liquid, semi-solid, or solid electrolytes. The market offers a plethora of electrolyte formulations, each presenting its own set of pros and cons for different battery technologies. A primary focus for research and development (R&D) teams, including ours, is pinpointing which specific components are responsible for this accelerated degradation. Identifying these components, which can be efficiently monitored through UV/Vis spectrophotometry, is pivotal in the quest for safer and more enduring batteries.

As batteries endure multiple cycles, their electrolytes deteriorate due to a variety of chemical and electrochemical reactions. This degradation manifests through changes in the absorption spectrum. By consistently observing these spectral shifts, we can track the progression of battery degradation and anticipate its impact on crucial performance indicators, such as battery capacity.

Yet, establishing a reliable reference curve poses a significant challenge. Electrolytes are delicate, and factors like manufacturing processes and transportation can compromise their quality. Even mere exposure to air can accelerate electrolyte degradation. To counter these variables, adopting a strategy that employs multiple representative samples is wise. This method enables the creation of a statistical average spectrum, providing a more precise and comprehensive insight into the electrolyte’s behaviour over time and under various conditions.

Streamlining lab analysis
Integrating multi-parameter analyses, like titration and pH measurement, into a single analysis workflow can significantly enhance laboratory efficiency and accuracy. This approach offers several key benefits, particularly when utilising advanced analytical systems.
Reduced sample volume. Integration cuts down sample volume for techniques like titration and pH measurement, reducing waste and conserving resources, crucial for limited or precious samples.
Time savings. Independent systems boost time efficiency by reducing manual work, freeing operators for other tasks and speeding up analysis cycles.
Streamlined data management. Multi-parameter analysis integration simplifies data management by merging results into one report, improving clarity, reducing errors, and easily integrating with quality systems.
The integration of multi-parameter analyses into a single workflow offers significant benefits in terms of efficiency, resource management, and data handling. By adopting such advanced systems, laboratories can optimise their operations, ensure high-quality results, and maintain compliance with stringent quality standards.

Colour changes in battery electrolytes

When dealing with electrolyte degradation, it is often signalled by a colour change, typically going from clear to shades of yellow or brown. To quantify these changes, we rely on several standardised colour scales like APHA, Pt/Co, Hazen, or the yellowness-index. These scales convert the colour variation into a single number, making it easier to assess the electrolyte’s quality.

In the past, determining the colour of electrolytes was something we had to do by eye, which was tricky due to variations in lighting and personal perception. Now, to ensure consistent results that are not dependent on the individual conducting the test, many standards employ UV/Vis spectrophotometry. This method is standardised and thoroughly tested to ensure accuracy, largely depending on the spectrophotometer’s performance.

UV/Vis spectrophotometry has become a handy tool, especially during the development phase of electrolyte solutions. When needing to detect very small impurities, we might use other methods like ICP-OES. For routine measurements, basic UV/Vis spectrophotometers that are easy to use are our go-to. And if in a lab looking to boost efficiency and automation, we consider advanced models. Models like the UV5 from METTLER TOLEDO come with features like flow cells, cuvette changers, or autosamplers, enabling us to automate processing up to 303 samples in a single run.

Quick quality checks with advanced spectrophotometers

Modern UV/Vis spectrophotometers are all about making our lives easier. They’ve got these built-in colour scales which really cut down on the manual work and calculations we must do. This not only makes the instruments super user-friendly for you and me but also means we are less likely to make mistakes. You will be able to quickly check the quality of your products because these machines give us results in seconds—it is all about fast and efficient analysis.

These spectrophotometers can analyse samples in an impressively short time. To ensure reliable testing, they’re equipped with pre-programmed performance test methods. These methods help validate the instrument’s performance, guaranteeing accurate and dependable results. Moreover, service technicians are available worldwide to perform validations using certified reference materials, providing professional support to maintain the instrument’s accuracy.

When it comes to liquid samples, the simplicity of the process is even more enhanced as no sample preparation is necessary to check optical properties. This is crucial for us because any alteration to the sample, such as dilution or chemical treatment, could potentially distort the results. On the other hand, solid samples must be dissolved in an appropriate solvent before measurement to ensure accurate readings. This step is essential for the correct analysis of solid materials, making sure that the results accurately reflect the true characteristics of the sample.

Essential testing in many fields

UV/Vis spectroscopy is a versatile and widely used analytical technique, especially beneficial if you’re involved in various industries. It offers a range of spectrophotometers, each designed to meet your specific needs, whether you’re in pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, or environmental monitoring.

As someone deeply involved in quality control and research across various domains, including pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, and environmental monitoring, I find UV/Vis spectroscopy offers invaluable insights into the characteristics of samples. It’s a crucial tool for ensuring product quality, studying chemical compositions, and monitoring environmental parameters, providing precise data that guide my decisions and strategies.

However, it’s important to remember that UV/Vis spectroscopy works best with samples that are clear and free of cloudiness. Choosing the right blank medium is crucial to get accurate results. This step is necessary to offset any effects the sample’s environment might have on your measurements, leading to more precise and reliable analyses for your specific needs.

Lab innovation highlights
In today’s fast-paced scientific environment, laboratories seek solutions that enhance both efficiency and accuracy. This is where the latest UV/Vis spectrophotometers come into play, offering a suite of features designed to meet these needs.
Versatile functionality. These spectrophotometers are efficient and adaptable, serving both as classical spectrum-measuring devices and specialised colorimeters with automated colour calculations.
Seamless data management. They support software integration for automated data export, streamlining data management and workflow.
Innovative features. Features like barcode scanning and real-time path length monitoring enhance reliability and reduce errors.
Space-saving solution. Compact yet multifunctional, they support various tests like titration, optimising space in labs.
User-friendly interface. The simple interface includes guided workflows and a barcode reader for easy sample identification.
Effortless operation. These devices automate measurements from start to finish, including path length identification and result generation, with a seven-day storage for blank measurements.
Embracing such cutting-edge technologies enables labs to stay ahead in a competitive field, ensuring high-quality results and streamlined operations. These spectrophotometers not only make complex tasks more manageable but also pave the way for future innovations in laboratory practices.

The exploration of ultraviolet/visible (UV/Vis) spectrophotometry within the realm of battery technology reveals its indispensable role in enhancing our understanding and management of battery health and efficiency. This analytical technique, with its profound ability to monitor the evolution of electrolyte solutions, stands as a cornerstone in the development of durable and efficient batteries. By offering detailed insights into electrolyte deterioration and impurity effects on battery performance, UV/Vis spectrophotometry not only aids in the rigorous assessment of battery health but also propels forward the research and development efforts aimed at creating more resilient battery technologies.

Its application transcends routine quality checks, emerging as a critical tool in the quest for innovation across various industries, including pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, and environmental monitoring. Through the lens of UV/Vis spectrophotometry, we gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of battery technology, paving the way for advancements that promise to redefine our approach to energy storage and utilisation.


Compiled by Nidhi Agarwal, Technology Journalist at EFY, this article features insights from Dr Fabian Müller, Product Manager for UV/Vis Spectrophotometers at METTLER TOLEDO, presented as a narrative of key discussion highlights

Nidhi Agarwal
Nidhi Agarwal
Nidhi Agarwal is a journalist at EFY. She is an Electronics and Communication Engineer with over five years of academic experience. Her expertise lies in working with development boards and IoT cloud. She enjoys writing as it enables her to share her knowledge and insights related to electronics, with like-minded techies.

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