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IRG-IV Nugget

Understanding the failure mechanisms of lithium batteries

Figure 1. Time-lapse series of in situ AFM images of the (001) surface of a V2O5 crystal during Li insertion and extraction at 45 _A/cm2. The surface was imaged continuously throughout the reaction. The images in (a), (b), and (c) correspond to initial lithiation times of 10, 14, and 27 min, respectively. During lithiation, some surface dissolution occurs, leading to the nucleation and growth of pits. Images (d) and (e) correspond to subsequent de-lithiation times of 5 and 15 min. During de-lithiation, cracks nucleate at the surface. Image (f) corresponds to 10 min of re-lithiation. During this process the cracks persist

Rechargeable lithium batteries provide portable power for most of today's electronic devices, such as cell phones, PDA's, laptops, etc. With repeated charges and discharges, the capacity of these batteries degrades so that they can power the device for less and less time. Upon discharge of a Li battery, Li ions flow into an oxide crystal structures. The pictures below, made with Atomic Force Microscopy by members of IRG-IV, reveal that the insertion of Li into a V2O3 electrode can cause cracking of the electrode, which will likely degrade the capacity of the material to store charge. By identifying this failure mode, mitigation measures can be taken in the design of the electrode to minimize cracking. This could lead to rechargeable lithium batteries with less capacity fade and hence an important improvement in performance.

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