Researchers led by Ohio State University engineers examined used car batteries and discovered that over time lithium accumulates beyond the battery electrodes – in the “current collector,” a sheet of copper which facilitates electron transfer between the electrodes and the car’s electrical system.
This knowledge could aid in improving design and performance of batteries, explained Bharat Bhushan, Ohio Eminent Scholar and the Howard D. Winbigler Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
“Our study shows that the copper current collector plays a role in the performance of the battery,” he said.
The study, which appears in a recent issue of the journal Scripta Materialia, reflects an ongoing collaboration between Bhushan and Suresh Babu, professor of materials science and engineering and director of the National Science Foundation Center for Integrative Materials Joining for Energy Applications, headquartered at the university. The team is trying to determine the factors that limit battery life.
Lithium-ion batteries are the rechargeable batteries used in most hybrid-electric cars and all-electric cars as well. Inside, lithium ions shuttle back and forth between the anode and cathode of the battery – to the anode when the battery is charging, and back to the cathode when the battery is discharging.
Previously, the researchers determined that, during aging of the battery, cyclable lithium permanently builds up on the surface of the anode, and the battery loses charge capacity.
This latest study revealed that lithium migrates through the anode to build up on the copper current collector as well.
“We didn’t set out to find lithium in the current collector, so you could say we accidentally discovered it, and how it got there is a bit of a mystery. As far as we know, nobody has ever expected active lithium to migrate inside the current collector,” Bhushan said.
Shrikant Nagpure, now postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State, carried out this research as a part of his doctoral degree. He examined batteries that were aged in collaboration with the university’s Center for Automotive Research, where colleagues Yann Guezennec and Giorgio Rizzoni have studied battery aging for several years, in collaboration with the automotive industry.
Key to the discovery of lithium in the current collector was collaboration between the Ohio State team and Gregory Downing, a research chemist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and an expert on a technique called neutron depth profiling (NDP), a tool for impurity analysis in materials.
Previously, the researchers used NDP to study the cathodes and anodes of six off-the-shelf lithium-ion car batteries – one new battery and five batteries which they aged themselves in the laboratory – and found that lithium builds up on the anode surface over time.
To understand more about how these batteries degrade, Bhushan and his colleagues have been studying the batteries further, at various scales ranging from the millimeter (millionths of a meter) down to the nanometer (billionths of a meter) with different techniques.
In the NDP technique, researchers pass neutrons through a material and capture the charged particles that emerge from the fission reaction between neutrons and lithium in the electrodes. Since different chemical elements emit a certain signature set of particles with specific energies, NDP can reveal the presence of impurities in a material.
In this latest study, NDP detected the presence of lithium in the copper current collector from one of the aged batteries. The detection was measured as a ratio of the number of copper atoms in the collector to the number of lithium atoms that had collected there. The test yielded a ratio of up to 0.08 percent, or approximately one lithium atom per 1250 copper atoms in the collector.
That’s a small number, but high enough that it could conceivably affect the electrical performance of the current collector – and, in turn, the performance of a battery, Bhushan said. He hopes that battery makers will further investigate this phenomenon and use the information to design new materials that might prevent lithium from escaping the electrode material.
Next, he and his colleagues will study the impedance, or internal electrical resistance, of lithium-ion batteries on the nanoscale.
Funding for this study came from the Institute for Materials Research at Ohio State.Contact: Bharat Bhushan, (614) 292-0651; Bhushan.firstname.lastname@example.org
Pam Frost Gorder | EurekAlert!
Nanomaterial makes laser light more applicable
28.03.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
New value added to the ICSD (Inorganic Crystal Structure Database)
27.03.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
28.03.2017 | Life Sciences
28.03.2017 | Information Technology
28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy