Operando Tomographic Characterisation of Electrochemical Energy Storage Devices


Electrochemical energy storage devices such as lithium ion batteries have recently facilitated a revolution in mobile electronics and communications technologies. In order to use batteries for electromobility and grid storage of renewable energy, more energy dense, safer and larger scale devices need to be developed.

During use of such electrochemical energy storage devices, the cyclic transport of ions can develop gradients of composition and stress, which may interact with each other and can create damage. This often leads to a decreased cycling efficiency, shortening the device’s lifetime. Relying solely on external analysis of the performance characteristics and post mortem destructive characterisation of the microstructure has its limitations.  Recent work to study degradation 'in operando' (e.g.https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-021-00967-8, https://doi.org/10.1002/anie.202013066 and https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41563-019-0438-9) has shown the insights that in situ X-ray computed tomography can provide.  Current work is now applying in situ synchrotron X-ray diffraction and neutron imaging methods to investigate these mechanisms.

This project will further explore the potential to achieve a quantitative understanding of the internal strain, stress and microstructure changes through in situ and in operando observations, linked to the ongoing work in the materials department on a range of energy storage materials.  This project is most suited to graduates with a physics, materials science, chemistry or engineering background.

In situ phase-contrast XCT virtual cross-sections during a single plating of a Li/Li6PS5Cl/Li cell

Ning, Ziyang, Dominic Spencer Jolly, Guanchen Li, Robin De Meyere, Shengda D Pu, Yang Chen, Jitti Kasemchainan, et al. 2021. “Visualizing Plating-Induced Cracking in Lithium-Anode Solid-Electrolyte Cells.” Nature Materials. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-021-00967-8.


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