Pioneering X-Ray Techniques Used to Design More Efficient Batteries

By Ashwin Kelkar

BNL AERIALS

Have you ever wondered why your iPhone battery only lasts 3 hours instead of the projected 8? It can be frustrating to many people around the world, but it can be even worse when that battery is powering a pacemaker, a tool that allows people’s hearts to continue pumping blood. Imagine what would happen if a battery like this suddenly dies and leaves someone completely vulnerable to their malfunctioning heart.

Dr. Esther Takeuchi and colleagues working in conjunction with the Brookhaven National Laboratory have struggled with this dilemma till recently when they decided to use x-ray techniques to better understand lithium-ion batteries. By using this novel method, the scientists can better understand how silver matrix formations can enhance conductivity.

Silver, generally a metal with low conductivity, can transform into a matrix within the battery core which allows it to handle electrons much more readily. However, the mechanism for this transformation has been eluding scientists till now. With the x-ray technology, Dr. Takeuchi and colleagues revealed how the silver changes its atomic structure that allows the flow of electricity and linked this transformation to how quickly the battery loses charge.

The team used the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) at Brookhaven Laboratory to determine how the silver becomes displaced by the lithium ions and subsequently forms matrices to allow conductivity. The x-ray diffraction patterns that come about as a result of the battery’s changing structure allowed the team of scientists to properly interpret what exactly was going on at the atomic level. The insightful data collected by this study will lead to better battery life that could potentially be life-saving.

References

  1. G. Filiano, Mapping of silver matrix formation in batteries will enhance efficiency. Stony Brook Newsroom. (2015).
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