Lithium Metal Polymer Battery Interfaces Studied By Hard X-Ray Microtomography

Monday, 25 May 2015: 08:20
Continental Room B (Hilton Chicago)
D. Devaux (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), K. J. Harry (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California Berkeley), D. Y. Parkinson (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), R. Yuan (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California Berkeley), D. T. Hallinan Jr. (Florida A&M University – Florida State University), A. A. MacDowell (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), and N. P. Balsara (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California Berkeley)
Conventional Lithium-ion batteries contain volatile liquid compounds that can leak and violently react with the environment leading to a fire.1 Solid polymer electrolytes (SPEs) are one solution as these flexible materials do not contain any volatile components. Additionally, they enable the use of high energy density lithium (Li) metal anodes.2 However, Li metal battery utilization is hampered by the dendrite growth.Upon cycling lithium metal is plated unevenly on the lithium metal anode side. Such dendrites can grow through the electrolyte and cause the battery to fail by short circuit.

Solid block copolymer electrolytes are a class of SPEs that contains a mechanical reinforced block and an ion conducting block doped with a Li salt.4 The block immiscibility induces microphase separation, producing ordered morphologies on the nanometer scale.5 The seminal work done by K.J. Harry et al.6 on solid polystyrene-b-poly(ethylene oxide) (SEO) block copolymer electrolyte led to a better understanding of Li dendrite formation and growth. Using Li symmetric cells dendrite evolution was observed and imaged by a non-destructive tool, hard X-ray microtomography.

To go toward the application, batteries were imaged by hard X-ray microtomography. The batteries are made of a Li metal anode, a SEO electrolyte layer and a composite cathode. The cathode deposited onto on Aluminum (Al) foil, contains LiFePOas active material, SEO electrolyte as binder, and carbon black. Hard X-ray microtomography enables to visualize the microstructural changes at the Li/SEO and SEO/cathode interfaces to get insight on the battery failure mechanisms.

The batteries were cycled at 90°C at a C/20 charge rate and a C/8 discharge rate (Figure 1a). Prior and after battery cycling, the electrode-electrolyte interfaces were imaged by hard X-ray microtomography as shown in figure 1b and 1c, respectively. We found that the supposed intimate Li/SEO interface undergoes a strong delamination phenomenon that leads to the formation of voids (Figure 1b). Using a rendering image software, the void fraction can be measured all along the Li/SEO interfaces, and its effect on the battery capacity fading be estimated.


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