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Watching Lithium Ions Enter Electrodes

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 05:57AM

It is almost amusing how much we rely on lithium ion batteries, despite knowing quite little about their operation. Given the extreme nature of the inside of a battery though, perhaps that is not altogether surprising. Still some researchers do find ways to looking inside, such as those at Michigan Technological University who have uncovered what happens when ions enter the anode.

As part of how batteries operate, lithium ions will move from one side to the other, entering and exiting the electrodes as is appropriate. That movement is not exactly simple or easy though, which is something the Michigan researchers want to change. With transmission electron microscopy, the researchers were able to observe atomic shuffling, as they call it, when lithium enters an anode. The structure of the electrode has to change to receive the lithium ion, expanding and contracting to form a sandwich structure.

Obviously this explains how the ions move through the electrodes, but it also explains why anodes made of a layered material fail. The stress and phase transitions involved are too great for the material to survive over repeated charge/discharge cycles.

Source: Michigan Technological University

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