Finding Flaws in Battery Electrodes with a Flash

Guest_Jim_* - May 15, 2013 08:45AM in Science & Technology

Batteries have given humanity new ways to change our lives and our environment, especially lithium-ion batteries, thanks to their ability to store and produce large amounts of power, while being compact in size. As great as they are though, the batteries can have flaws that impair their performance and reduce their lifespan. Researchers at Purdue University though have found a very quick and effective way to catch these flaws during the manufacturing process.

Within lithium-ion batteries are two electrodes which are copper on one side and on the other is a paint-like substance. This substance is designed to capture and store lithium ions, which is how the battery is able to hold and release a charge. Imperfections in the paint, such as variations in thickness, air bubbles, and even an incorrect mixture can all affect a battery's performance, but all of these can now be detected. The researchers found that by flashing a xenon bulb on the copper side of the electrode, the opposite, painted side is heated. Imaging the heat distribution allows the researchers to discover any defects very quickly and before they could be a problem.

This quality control process takes less than a second and could have profoundly impact lithium-ion battery manufacture, but preventing poorer electrodes from being installed in batteries. Not only can these defects now be fixed on the spot, but potentially we could see them being removed from the manufacturing process, thanks to the information this process will provide.

Source: Purdue University