Visualization and Quantification of Electrochemical and Mechanical Degradation in Li Ion Batteries

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Science  17 Oct 2013:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1241882

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High energy density materials that undergo conversion and alloying reactions hold promise for next generation lithium ion batteries. However, these materials experience substantial volume change during electrochemical operation, which causes mechanical fracture of the material and structural disintegration of the electrode, leading to capacity loss. Here, we visualize and quantify the origins and evolution of electrochemical and mechanical degradation using x-ray tomography during battery operation. Tomography provides the time resolved, three-dimensional chemical composition and morphology within individual particles and throughout the electrode. In the model material SnO, we witness distributions in onset and rate of core-shell lithiation, crack initiation and growth along preexisting defects, and irreversible distortion of the electrode, highlighting tomography as tool to guide the development of durable materials and strain-tolerant electrodes.

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