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Stressed out: Research sheds new light on why rechargeable batteries fail

Date:
October 1, 2014
Source:
Michigan Technological University
Summary:
Lithium ions traveling through a zinc antimonide anode cause local stress and phase transitions, a process dubbed atomic shuffling. These changes may help explain why most anodes made of layered materials eventually fail.
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Pity the poor lithium ion. Drawn relentlessly by its electrical charge, it surges from anode to cathode and back again, shouldering its way through an elaborate molecular obstacle course. This journey is essential to powering everything from cell phones to cordless power tools. Yet, no one really understands what goes on at the atomic scale as lithium ion batteries are used and recharged, over and over again.

Michigan Technological University researcher Reza Shahbazian-Yassar has made it his business to better map the ion's long, strange trip -- and perhaps make it smoother and easier. His ultimate aim: to make better batteries, with more power and a longer life.

Using transmission electron microscopy, Anmin Nie, a senior postdoctoral researcher in Shahbazian-Yassar's research group, has recently documented what can happen to anodes as lithium ions work their way into them, and it's not especially good. The research was recently published in the journal Nano Letters.

"We call it atomic shuffling," says Shahbazian-Yassar, the Richard and Elizabeth Henes Associate Professor in Nanotechnology. "The layered structure of the electrode changes as the lithium goes inside, creating a sandwich structure: there is lots of localized expansion and contraction in the electrode crystals, which helps the lithium blaze a trail through the electrode."

The atomic shuffling not only helps explain how lithium ions move through the anode, in this case a promising new material called zinc antimonide. It also provides a clue as to why most anodes made of layered materials eventually fail. "We showed that the ions cause a lot of local stress and phase transitions," Anmin said.

The paper, "Lithiation-Induced Shuffling of Atomic Stacks," is coauthored by Shahbazian-Yassar, Nie and graduate student Hasti Asayesh-Ardakani of Michigan Tech's Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics; Yingchun Cheng, Yun Han and Udo Schwingenschlogl of King Abdulla University of Science and Technology, in Saudi Arabia; Runzhe Tao, Farzad Mashayet and Robert Klie of the University if Illinois at Chicago; and Sreeram Vaddiraju of Texas A&M University.

The microscopy was conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Michigan Technological University. Original written by Marcia Goodrich. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Anmin Nie, Yingchun Cheng, Yihan Zhu, Hasti Asayesh-Ardakani, Runzhe Tao, Farzad Mashayek, Yu Han, Udo Schwingenschlögl, Robert F. Klie, Sreeram Vaddiraju, Reza Shahbazian-Yassar. Lithiation-Induced Shuffling of Atomic Stacks. Nano Letters, 2014; 14 (9): 5301 DOI: 10.1021/nl502347z

Cite This Page:

Michigan Technological University. "Stressed out: Research sheds new light on why rechargeable batteries fail." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 October 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141001133117.htm>.
Michigan Technological University. (2014, October 1). Stressed out: Research sheds new light on why rechargeable batteries fail. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 21, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141001133117.htm
Michigan Technological University. "Stressed out: Research sheds new light on why rechargeable batteries fail." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141001133117.htm (accessed June 21, 2024).

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