Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Seeing how a lithium-ion battery works: An exotic state of matter -- a 'random solid solution' -- affects how ions move through battery material

Diagram illustrates the process of charging or discharging the lithium iron phosphate (LFP) electrode. As lithium ions are removed during the charging process, it forms a lithium-depleted iron phosphate (FP) zone, but in between there is a solid solution zone (SSZ, shown in dark blue-green) containing some randomly distributed lithium atoms, unlike the orderly array of lithium atoms in the original crystalline material (light blue). This work provides the first direct observations of this SSZ phenomenon.

Illustration courtesy of the authors
Diagram illustrates the process of charging or discharging the lithium iron phosphate (LFP) electrode. As lithium ions are removed during the charging process, it forms a lithium-depleted iron phosphate (FP) zone, but in between there is a solid solution zone (SSZ, shown in dark blue-green) containing some randomly distributed lithium atoms, unlike the orderly array of lithium atoms in the original crystalline material (light blue). This work provides the first direct observations of this SSZ phenomenon.

Illustration courtesy of the authors

Abstract:
New observations by researchers at MIT have revealed the inner workings of a type of electrode widely used in lithium-ion batteries. The new findings explain the unexpectedly high power and long cycle life of such batteries, the researchers say.

Seeing how a lithium-ion battery works: An exotic state of matter -- a 'random solid solution' -- affects how ions move through battery material

Cambridge, MA | Posted on June 9th, 2014

The findings appear in a paper in the journal Nano Letters co-authored by MIT postdoc Jun Jie Niu, research scientist Akihiro Kushima, professors Yet-Ming Chiang and Ju Li, and three others.

The electrode material studied, lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4), is considered an especially promising material for lithium-based rechargeable batteries; it has already been demonstrated in applications ranging from power tools to electric vehicles to large-scale grid storage. The MIT researchers found that inside this electrode, during charging, a solid-solution zone (SSZ) forms at the boundary between lithium-rich and lithium-depleted areas the region where charging activity is concentrated, as lithium ions are pulled out of the electrode.

Li says that this SSZ "has been theoretically predicted to exist, but we see it directly for the first time," in transmission electron microscope (TEM) videos taken during charging.

The observations help to resolve a longstanding puzzle about LiFePO4: In bulk crystal form, both lithium iron phosphate and iron phosphate (FePO4, which is left behind as lithium ions migrate out of the material during charging) have very poor ionic and electrical conductivities. Yet when treated with doping and carbon coating and used as nanoparticles in a battery, the material exhibits an impressively high charging rate. "It was quite surprising when this [rapid charging and discharging rate] was first demonstrated," Li says.

"We directly observed a metastable random solid solution that may resolve this fundamental problem that has intrigued [materials scientists] for many years," says Li, the Battelle Energy Alliance Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering and a professor of materials science and engineering.

The SSZ is a "metastable" state, persisting for at least several minutes at room temperature. Replacing a sharp interface between LiFePO4 and FePO4 that has been shown to contain many additional line defects called "dislocations," the SSZ serves as a buffer, reducing the number of dislocations that would otherwise move with the electrochemical reaction front. "We don't see any dislocations," Li says. This could be important because the generation and storage of dislocations can cause fatigue and limit the cycle life of an electrode.

Unlike conventional TEM imaging, the technique used in this work, developed in 2010 by Kushima and Li, makes it possible to observe battery components as they charge and discharge, which can reveal dynamic processes. "In the last four years, there has been a big explosion of using such in situ TEM techniques to study battery operations," Li says.

A better understanding of these dynamic processes could improve the performance of an electrode material by allowing better tuning of its properties, Li says.

Despite an incomplete understanding to date, lithium iron phosphate nanoparticles are already used at an industrial scale for lithium-ion batteries, Li explains. "The science is lagging behind the application," he says. "It's already scaled up and quite successful on the market. It's one of the success stories of nanotechnology."

"Compared to traditional lithium-ion, [lithium iron phosphate] is environmentally friendly, and very stable," Niu says. "But it's important for this material to be well understood."

While the discovery of the SSZ was made in LiFePO4, Li says, "The same principle may apply to other electrode materials. People are looking for high-power electrode materials, and such metastable states could exist in other electrode materials that are inert in bulk form. The phenomenon discovered could be very general, and not specific to this material."

###

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

Written by David Chandler, MIT News Office

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Andrew Carleen

617-253-1682

Copyright © Massachusetts Institute of Technology

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Imaging

Switching to spintronics: Berkeley Lab reports on electric field switching of ferromagnetism at room temp December 17th, 2014

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale December 17th, 2014

Unraveling the light of fireflies December 17th, 2014

News and information

Switching to spintronics: Berkeley Lab reports on electric field switching of ferromagnetism at room temp December 17th, 2014

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale December 17th, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Zenosense, Inc. - Hospital Collaboration - 400 Person Lung Cancer Detection Trial December 17th, 2014

SUNY Poly NanoCollege Faculty Member Selected as American Physical Society Fellow: SUNY Poly Associate Professor of Nanoscience Dr. Vincent LaBella Recognized for Significant Technological Innovations that Enable Interactive Learning December 17th, 2014

Switching to spintronics: Berkeley Lab reports on electric field switching of ferromagnetism at room temp December 17th, 2014

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale December 17th, 2014

Discoveries

Switching to spintronics: Berkeley Lab reports on electric field switching of ferromagnetism at room temp December 17th, 2014

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale December 17th, 2014

Unraveling the light of fireflies December 17th, 2014

Fraud-proof credit card possible because of quantum physics December 16th, 2014

Announcements

Switching to spintronics: Berkeley Lab reports on electric field switching of ferromagnetism at room temp December 17th, 2014

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale December 17th, 2014

Unraveling the light of fireflies December 17th, 2014

First Home-Made Edible Herbal Nanodrug Presented to Pharmacies across Iran December 17th, 2014

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Unraveling the light of fireflies December 17th, 2014

Pb islands in a sea of graphene magnetise the material of the future December 16th, 2014

Fraud-proof credit card possible because of quantum physics December 16th, 2014

Scientists trace nanoparticles from plants to caterpillars: Rice University study examines how nanoparticles behave in food chain December 16th, 2014

Tools

Switching to spintronics: Berkeley Lab reports on electric field switching of ferromagnetism at room temp December 17th, 2014

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale December 17th, 2014

Unraveling the light of fireflies December 17th, 2014

Bruker Introduces BioScope Resolve High-Resolution BioAFM System: Featuring PeakForce Tapping for Quantitative Bio-Mechanical Property Mapping December 16th, 2014

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics/Energy storage

Nexeon Attracts ex-Nokia Product Executive to its Board of Directors December 15th, 2014

Defects are perfect in laser-induced graphene: Rice University lab discovers simple way to make material for energy storage, electronics December 10th, 2014

Lengthening the life of high capacity silicon electrodes in rechargeable lithium batteries: Novel rubber-like coating could lead to longer lasting batteries December 2nd, 2014

Atmospheric carbon dioxide used for energy storage products December 2nd, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE