Researchers use diffraction data from pulsed high-intensity neutrons to understand the reactions that deteriorate lithium batteries during operation. The findings are published in Scientific Reports, 30 June 2016.
Despite the commercialisation of rechargeable lithium batteries in 1991, improvements to the reliability, safety, and long-term stability are still needed for their use in a wider range of large-scale applications. Now a collaboration of researchers in Japan have developed a technique they can use while the battery is in operation, which may shed light on some of the reactions that occur in these systems, providing insights for better battery design.
While techniques exist to monitor reaction dynamics, so far they have been difficult to apply on commercial batteries because of the stainless steel cans around them and their size. Ryoji Kanno worked with researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology, High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK), Sokendai (the Graduate University for Advanced Studies), and Kyoto University. They developed an in operando diffraction technique that uses pulsed high-intensity neutrons and a high-resolution high-intensity time-of-flight diffractometer to monitor the processes in the battery while it is in action.