How quickly a battery electrode decays depends on properties of individual particles in the battery – at first. Later on, the network of particles matters more.
Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries don’t last forever – after enough cycles of charging and recharging, they’ll eventually go kaput, so researchers are constantly looking for ways to squeeze a little more life out of their battery designs.
Now, researchers at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and colleagues from Purdue University, Virginia Tech, and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility have discovered that the factors behind battery decay actually change over time. Early on, decay seems to be driven by the properties of individual electrode particles, but after several dozen charging cycles, it’s how those particles are put together that matters more.
“The fundamental building blocks are these particles that make up the battery electrode, but when you zoom out, these particles interact with each other,” said SLAC scientist Yijin Liu, a researcher at the lab’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource and a senior author on the new paper. Therefore, “if you want to build a better battery, you need to look at how to put the particles together.”
Read more on the SLAC website
Image: A piece of battery cathode after 10 charging cycles. A machine-learning feature detection and quantification algorithm allowed researchers to automatically single out the most severely damaged particles of interest, which are highlighted in the image.
Credit: Courtesy Yijin Liu/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory