Correlation Between Microstructure Parameters and Performance Characteristics of Lithium-Ion Cathodes
NxMyCz (nickel manganese cobalt spinel) is one of the most promising cathode materials, both due to its rather high operating voltage and to either high power or energy density . Hereby, a compromise between high power (thin layers and, i.e., high porosity) and high energy density (thick layers and, i.e., low porosity) has to be reached, in particular for automotive applications. This demands for an extended understanding of the interplay between microstructure parameters and chemical stoichiometry of NMC cathodes on cell performance characteristics.
In this study, two NMC - cathodes recovered from commercial high energy and high power cells are analyzed (i) by SEM and X-ray tomography and (ii) by Electrochemical Impedance spectroscopy (EIS). By evaluating the impedance spectra measured at 0 to 40°C and at SOC 0 to SOC 100 by the distribution function of relaxation times (DRT) , a physically motivated transition line model  was established. The microstructure parameters required for a quantitative analysis of the electrochemical loss processes were obtained by X-ray tomography data. Additionally, the exact composition is determined by energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) investigations
The results confirm, that a NMC electrode custom tailored for high energy density is rather thick (70 µm) and made of large low-porous agglomerates of primary particles, as described in . The significant difference between the NMC cathode of a high energy and a high power cell however is not, as expected, a significantly higher porosity, but a sophisticated combination of small carbon black particles and elongated carbon black fibers, enabling high discharge currents. The tortuosity of the electrode pores, which represent the transport pathways for the liquid electrolyte, is low for the high power cell, which raises the effective electrolyte conductivity significantly, when compared to the high energy cell . Furthermore the high power cell features a special compound of two different NxMyCz active materials. By including all the results from EIS, DRT, X-ray tomography and EDX, an evaluation of the influence of composition and microstructure on performance characteristics of the NxMyCz cathodes will be presented.
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