July 25, 2024

New Method Allows Real-Time Tracking of Physical Processes in Li-ion Batteries

Researchers from McGill University and the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) have developed a groundbreaking method that enables the monitoring of physical processes occurring in both the liquid and solid parts of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. The study, published in the journal Joule, sheds new light on the factors influencing the charging and discharging speed of Li-ion batteries and could pave the way for fast-charging capabilities in various electronic devices and vehicles.

Led by chemistry professors Janine Mauzeroll at McGill and Steen B. Schougaard at UQAM, in collaboration with the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), the research team utilized highly concentrated X-rays to examine the inner workings of Li-ion battery cells. Through this technique, they successfully mapped real-time changes in lithium concentration during the charging or discharging process.

As lithium travels within a Li-ion battery cell, both in a liquid electrolyte and a solid active material, the speed at which this occurs depends on the lithium’s movement between the two sides of the cell through these phases. The new method allows researchers to observe this movement in real-time, providing valuable insights into Li-ion battery performance.

This breakthrough has significant implications for both battery research and everyday electronics users. By enabling the study of Li-ion battery performance at the molecular level, researchers will have a powerful tool to accelerate battery research, leading to advancements in electrode architectures and overall battery performance. This, in turn, could translate into improved battery capabilities for various electronic devices and vehicles.

The research project faced challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the McGill and UQAM teams are based in Montreal, the measurements were conducted at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France. Travel restrictions posed potential obstacles, but the Faculties of Science at McGill and UQAM granted travel exemptions to ensure the project’s success. The collaboration with the ESRF team in France also played a crucial role in obtaining the necessary measurements despite the pandemic-induced limitations.

Overall, this groundbreaking method offers a unique opportunity to study and understand the inner workings of Li-ion batteries. By gaining insights into the physical processes occurring within these batteries, researchers can work towards developing faster-charging capabilities for essential electronic devices and vehicles. The successful execution of this project amidst the challenges posed by the pandemic highlights the importance of continued innovation in the field of battery research.


1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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