Taking Biology to Batteries
If you use a cell phone or laptop computer, you know lithium-ion batteries degrade far too quickly. This degradation limits the use of such batteries in hybrid electric vehicles and other larger applications. If the undesirable reactions that degrade the battery’s performance are understood, scientists can design longer-lasting batteries. Part of the challenge in tracking down the reactions is seeing what happens on the surface. Scientists took the scanning ion conductance microscope, an entirely no-contact method used by biologists, and altered it. The revised microscope provides images with a resolution on the scale of hundreds of nanometers. It also measures the local ion current. While this technique is in its infancy, it can provide scientists with nanoscale data about undesirable reactions and ultimately enable the next generation of batteries. This work was done by the Center for Electrical Energy Storage, led by Argonne National Laboratory.
Written by Scott Kirklin and Kristin Manke
Lipson AL, RS Ginder and MC Hersam. 2011. “Nanoscale In Situ Characterization of Li-ion Battery Electrochemistry via Scanning Ion Conductance Microscopy.” Advanced Materials 23(47):5613-5617. DOI: 10.1002/adma.201103094