Our latest work on the characterisation of NMC electodes used in Li-ion batteries at the PCCP published

Multi Length Scale Chemical X-ray imaging fig

Multi Length Scale Chemical X-ray imaging on Cycled MNC Electrodes

Our latest work on the characterisation of NMC electodes used in Li-ion batteries at the PCCP has been published in a new paper, “Exploring cycling induced crystallographic change in NMC with X-ray diffraction computed tomography” in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.

The research was carried out in collaboration with the Electrochemical Innovation Lab (EIL) from the UCL Chemical Engineering, Johnson Matthey, the Faraday Institution, NREL, UCL Chemistry and ESRF.

This study presents the application of X-ray diffraction computed tomography for the first time to analyze the crystal dimensions of LiNi0.33Mn0.33Co0.33O2 electrodes cycled to 4.2 and 4.7 V in full cells with graphite as negative electrodes at 1 μm spatial resolution to determine the change in unit cell dimensions as a result of electrochemical cycling. The nature of the technique permits the spatial localization of the diffraction information in 3D and mapping of heterogeneities from the electrode to the particle level. An overall decrease of 0.4% and 0.6% was observed for the unit cell volume after 100 cycles for the electrodes cycled to 4.2 and 4.7 V. Additionally, focused ion beam-scanning electron microscope cross-sections indicate extensive particle cracking as a function of upper cut-off voltage, further confirming that severe cycling stresses exacerbate degradation. Finally, the technique facilitates the detection of parts of the electrode that have inhomogeneous lattice parameters that deviate from the bulk of the sample, further highlighting the effectiveness of the technique as a diagnostic tool, bridging the gap between crystal structure and electrochemical performance.

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Our paper on the first region-of-interest high resolution X-ray diffraction computed tomography experiment of a Si-graphite electrode used for Li-ion battery applications has been published in Nano Letters

Our scientists’ new work on Si-graphite electrodes used for Li-ion battery applications with high resolution in situ X-ray chemical imaging has been published in a new paper, “Spatially Resolving Lithiation in Silicon–Graphite Composite Electrodes via in Situ High-Energy X-ray Diffraction Computed Tomography” in Nano Letters. The work was performed with Donal Finegan from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and in collaboration with a team from the Electrochemical Innovation Lab (EIL) from UCL Chemical Engineering using ESRF’s ID15A beamline.

Optimizing the chemical and morphological parameters of lithium-ion (Li-ion) electrodes is extremely challenging, due in part to the absence of techniques to construct spatial and temporal descriptions of chemical and morphological heterogeneities. In this work, we present the first demonstration of combined high-speed X-ray diffraction (XRD) and XRD computed tomography (XRD-CT) to probe, in 3D, crystallographic heterogeneities within Li-ion electrodes with a spatial resolution of 1 μm. The local charge-transfer mechanism within and between individual particles was investigated in a silicon(Si)−graphite composite electrode. High-speed XRD revealed charge balancing kinetics between the graphite and Si during the minutes following the transition from operation to open circuit. Subparticle lithiation heterogeneities in both Si and graphite were observed using XRD-CT, where the core and shell structures were segmented, and their respective diffraction patterns were characterized.

Battery diagram

Figure: (a) XRD-CT slice taken at the beginning of the charge step showing a phase-distribution map of LiC12 (red), crystalline Si (green), and lithium silicides LixSi (blue). According to additive colour mixing, the colour teal represents a mixture of green (Si) and blue (lithiated Si). (b) Magnified regions of interest showing large particles of LixSi phase with crystalline Si cores (1-3) and smaller LixSi particles (4) interspersed in the graphite matrix. The yellow arrow highlights what looks to be evidence of delamination from a crystalline Si core.

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