Published On: Thu, Sep 8th, 2016

X-rays reveal the secrets of batteries

Nano world inside of batteries can be observed with a new microscope. Allows researchers to solve destructive inhomogeneities. Increase capacity and lifetime of the battery.

 Chueh Lab

Photo: Chueh Lab

What exactly in lithium-ion batteries if they are loaded and unloaded, is unknown even after many years of research. Still, it may happen that this electricity store burst into flames like that again in the latest Smartphones from Samsung. The Korean manufacturer had to pull the device out of service.

You know what happens at the nano level inside the batteries, not only the fire danger could be due to a modified construction ban. The batteries could download faster, reached a higher capacity and held longer.

Slow motion film from the inside of the battery

Now, researchers in California have laid the Foundation to understand what is happening inside the batteries. Drew sharply focused, pulsed x-ray generated in the electron accelerator of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory national on a battery.

When passing, they were distracted and then collected by a detector. The degree of distraction did find what happened in the battery when it was loaded or unloaded. With a technology developed specifically for this experiment, the evaluation succeeded almost in real time. Slow motion movies of the operations in the battery were in a sense.

Mechanical tensions weigh on the battery

The look into the nano world of the battery discovered amazing. Is the battery the lithium iron phosphorus cathode emits lithium-ion. Hike through the electrolyte to the anode. It unloads the process is reversed. That wasn’t what the scientists surprised, but the fact that there are regions that absorb large quantities of ions respectively give back, and others who respond very slow’s. Still, this phenomenon is increased depending on the memory is older. This imbalance can lead to mechanical stresses, which destroy the battery over time.

“We have found now a way to track this process in real time”, says David Shapiro, a physicist working at the advanced light source the name of X-ray light source, from Berkeley. “This will help researchers to understand the process and to optimize it.”

Soon there’s a better microscope

Shapiro and his team are now working on a new X-ray microscope that has a ten times higher resolution than the present one. So even the smallest particles can be observed, which are involved in the processes within the battery. Also, it should be possible to observe the events in larger areas. “So far it was possible to explore the behavior of a complete battery,” said Jongwoo Lim, co author of the article in the journal “Science”. “Now we can observe and understand how individual particles of the battery when charging and discharging behave.”

 Chueh Lab

Photo: Chueh Lab

If you want to learn about a battery, which is fivefold the range of electric cars, then click here. Read how researchers at Jülich have eliminated a crucial obstacle to the day-to-day operation of a such high-performance battery, which is also still unrivalled cheap.


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