09-Nov-2022 - Collège de France

Technology to "see" into commercial batteries

Monitoring and studying battery chemistry is crucial to improving battery design

A multidisciplinary research team involving scientists from Collège de France, CNRS, Université Rennes 1 and Université de Montpellier has developed a method to track the chemistry inside a battery, live, and throughout its multiple charges and discharges. Presented in Nature Energy on November 7, 2022, this technology paves the way for improving the performance and design of future batteries.

Batteries offer the ability to store energy in chemical form: during charging, the current forces chemical reactions and energy is stored, then during discharging a spontaneous electrochemical reaction causes the electrons to move back through the system. Energy is released to create an electric current.

Controlling and studying the chemistry of a battery is therefore crucial to understanding how it works, but also to improving its design. While this is easy to do in the laboratory, it is much less easy when it is integrated into a system. But a multidisciplinary research team1 led by scientists at the Solid State and Energy Chemistry Laboratory (CNRS/Collège de France/Sorbonne University) has just developed a method for monitoring the chemistry of a commercial battery, live, during its charge or discharge.

The technology, presented in a paper published in Nature, relies on the transport of infrared light in chalcogenide glass optical fibers placed through a battery. The interaction of this light with the constituents of the battery makes it possible to identify and follow the chemical molecules present around the fiber.

The researchers were thus able to observe the evolution of the electrolytes as well as the insertion/extraction of sodium-lithium ions in the electrodes according to the charge. And this while it was in use, a first! With this system, the scientists were also able to study the interface between the electrolyte and the negative electrode material called Solid electrolyte interphase (SEI). This layer, which conducts ions and insulates electrons, determines the longevity of the batteries. In particular, the team was able to follow in situ the nature of the chemical species involved in the nucleation and growth of the SEI that takes place during the very first charge of a battery.

From a practical point of view, these results open the way to a facilitated and improved design of batteries. Currently, the optimization of electrolytes and charge test protocols is time consuming to find the best option for an ideal SEI, and thus improve the longevity of a battery. With this new method, it is possible to quickly and accurately see how each component of the recipe evolves, interacts with the others and influences the performance of the battery. The research team is continuing its work with a focus on SEI and hopes to unlock all its secrets.

Note: This article has been translated using a computer system without human intervention. LUMITOS offers these automatic translations to present a wider range of current news. Since this article has been translated with automatic translation, it is possible that it contains errors in vocabulary, syntax or grammar. The original article in French can be found here.

Facts, background information, dossiers
More about Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
More about University of Rennes
  • News

    Electrons Passed Around

    Photoinduced charge transfers are an interesting electronic property of Prussian blue and some analogously structured compounds. A team of researchers has now been able to elucidate the ultrafast processes in the light-induced charge transfer between iron and manganese in a manganese-contai ... more

    Zeroing in on the true nature of fluids within nanocapillaries

    Shrinking the investigation of objects down to the nanometer scale often reveals new properties of matter that have no equivalent for their bulk analysis. This phenomenon is motivating many current studies of nanomaterials which can reveal fascinating new phenomena. It inspired a group of r ... more

    Liquid foam: Plastic, elastic and fluid

    What differentiates complex fluids from mere fluids? What makes them unique is that they are neither solid nor liquid. Among such complex fluids are foams. They are used as a model to understand the mechanisms underlying complex fluids flow. Now, a team of French physicists has gained new i ... more