Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Turn That Defect Upside Down

26.05.2015

Twin Boundaries in Lithium-Ion Batteries

Most people see defects as flaws. A few Michigan Technological University researchers, however, see them as opportunities. Twin boundaries — which are small, symmetrical defects in materials — may present an opportunity to improve lithium-ion batteries. The twin boundary defects act as energy highways and could help get better performance out of the batteries.


Reza Shahbazian-Yassar

Spotting twin boundary defects in tin oxides requires the aid of a transmission electron microscope: The yellow streaks, highlighted by green arrows, show where lithium ions travel along twin boundaries.

This finding, published in Nano Letters earlier this year, turns a previously held notion of material defects on its head. Reza Shahbazian–Yassar helped lead the study and holds a joint appointment at Michigan Tech as the Richard & Elizabeth Henes associate professor in nanotechnology and an adjunct associate professor in materials science and engineering. Anmin Nie, a senior postdoctoral researcher in his group, conducted the study.

Nie says that material defects, including twin boundaries, are naturally occurring and majority of the past research has focused on removing them from materials.

“We look at the nanostructure of the battery materials that are out there,” he explains. “We have noticed some defects, such as twin boundaries, that exist in these materials can be good channels that will help us to transport lithium ions.”

That movement of ions is key to making better, stronger batteries.

How Lithium-Ion Batteries Work

Batteries power most of our gadgets. Shahbazian-Yassar says, “The focus over the past few years has been on rechargeable batteries — most specifically the lithium-ion battery.”

That’s because lithium-ion batteries are lightweight, pack a whopping punch of energy density, and their efficiency continues to climb. Like all basic batteries, ones run on lithium ions rely on shuttling ions from one place to another. Technically speaking, that’s between the anode and cathode, and an electric current coaxes ions to shuffle between them. A low battery means there is less exchange happening between the anode and cathode. Twin boundaries could help hustle that exchange along or perhaps extend it, hopefully without losing battery life.

Twin boundaries basically are mirror images, places in a material where one side of atomic arrangements reflects another. They often result while making a material, which shifts the atoms out of place a smidge.

“Without a detailed view of the atomic arrangements, one might think the structure of electrode material is perfect, but then when you pay attention at the atomic level, you’ll notice that these atoms are all symmetric with one plane,” Nie says, explaining that the symmetry causes problems because it creates weak spots.

At the same time, that symmetry is what provides a route for ions to travel along. Shahbazian-Yassar and his team received a grant from the Division of Materials Research at the National Science Foundation last fall to explore this and have now shown that a twin boundary acts as a highway for lithium ion transport.

“Usually the available free space within the crystal is what ions use to move in or out of the electrode,” Shahbazian-Yassar says, explaining that the space is like a crowded city with narrow streets and the ions resemble the moving cars. “If there is an accident, road construction, or simply traffic, cars can not easily pass through the streets — similar phenomenon happens in batteries.

Lithium ions need wide and open roads in order to shuttle in and out of the battery electrodes. Any obstruction to the moving ions will reduce the amount of energy or power extracted from a battery.

The research team examined twin boundaries in tin oxides, but Shahbazian-Yassar says it’s applicable in many battery materials. The next step is finding out how to optimize these defects to balance the mechanical integrity with the amount of twin structures. Finding that balance will be the focus of the researchers’ next steps, and this new finding about twin boundaries lays the groundwork for improving lithium-ion batteries.

Michigan Technological University ( www.mtu.edu ) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.

Contact Information
Allison Mills
Science & technology writer
awmills@mtu.edu
Phone: 906-487-2343
Mobile: 406-203-2308

Allison Mills | newswise

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht A big nano boost for solar cells
18.01.2017 | Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies

nachricht Multiregional brain on a chip
16.01.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>