LiB: Next Generation Energy Storage
Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) are used to power portable electronics, electric vehicles, and grid storage solutions; they play a crucial role in driving sustainability and are an essential energy storage device. With the demand for electric vehicles and renewable energy sources continuing to rise, there is an increasing need to improve electrochemical storage. The search for new battery materials, alongside the drive to improve performance, and lower the cost of existing and new batteries, comes with its challenges.
Lithium has one of the highest electrochemical potentials compared to other metals, making it very active. Therefore, it releases the electron from the outer shell much faster than other metals, which makes it a good choice for battery research. 6/7Li are called ‘spin spies’ because they detect changes in structure, state of deterioration, Li-ion mobility, and quantitation during charging and discharging of the battery and have guided the synthesis of new anode, cathode and electrolyte materials.
A primary concern in finding new forms of electrolytes in secondary batteries is safety because electrolytes can leak in a battery and are very sensitive to temperature change, especially high temperatures.
Leveraging NMR for LiB Analysis
One method to observe lithium ions is nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). NMR is one of the few analytical methods to characterize the local structure and ion dynamics of LIB materials. NMR spectroscopy is crucial in studying the electrochemical and physical properties of the LIB components. NMR applications are used for three of the components of LIBs: cathode, anode, and electrolyte. The material that is being analyzed will determine the appropriate NMR technique, such as solid-state NMR, in-situ NMR, and diffusion NMR.
Characterizing Li-ion cells and batteries can involve a galvanostatic cycle which can study the behavior of batteries being cycled. A current is applied to cause an electrochemical reaction, followed by a reverse reaction, and this is repeated until the battery degrades, usually because of temperature. NMR is used to determine the time this process will take.
NMR: Non-Destructive Analysis
The main benefits of NMR spectroscopy over alternative approaches are its non-destructive nature and ability to study a range of operating storage devices in situ. Further research will provide key observations that can lead to the development of more efficient, safer batteries in the future. Magic-angle spinning improves spectral resolution for solid-state samples by physically spinning the sample.
Ex-situ NMR can uncover the charging and discharging cycle during lithium-ion battery operation. It explored the new cathode material with a multi-layer structure with domains where lithium-ion is contained.
NMR is a valuable tool for researchers because of its high flexibility and chemical sensitivity whilst remaining non-invasive. NMR spectroscopy is a vital tool for investigating the chemical and physical properties and electrochemical performance of LIBs. It will help advance current research into finding more sustainable and efficient solutions to support the future of our planet. Further applications of NMR in battery research will support battery manufacturing and prevention of battery failures; furthermore, it will improve technologies to meet the demand for high efficiency, longer lifetime and lower costs.
To learn more about JEOL USA’s air-isolated microscopy workflow proving its value in advanced battery research and production, visit booth #2222.