Applications such as electric vehicles (EVs) and grid storage are driving market growth in battery technology. But several important materials challenges need to be overcome before next-generation batteries become standard in these areas.
Energy Materials

Multi-Scale Battery Imaging

Applications such as electric vehicles (EVs) and grid storage are driving market growth in battery technology. But several important materials challenges need to be overcome before next-generation batteries become standard in these areas. For example, safety is of particular concern due to the flammability of certain electrolytes and the high activity of battery cells in EVs and portable electronics.  

Optimizing a battery means understanding its structure on multiple scales

Future battery research will be focused on power density improvement through new electrode designs. The microstructure of these electrodes plays a crucial role in performance, such as the driving range and charging ability of EVs. And the evolution of the electrode over time determines its lifetime stability - dendrite growth and cracking can result in short circuits, causing a battery to fail prematurely or catastrophically. So bulk defects like foreign particles and dendrites mean that quality control is critical when it comes to safety.

To optimize performance for a specific application and prevent premature failure, you must study the battery on multiple scales. This includes the composition, crystal lattice structure, and the microstructure of the individual materials. It also means studying the electrode and packaging level, where you can understand the overall integrity and enclosure of the cell. And for the most accurate results, you have to perform this multi-scale analysis in situ without damaging your sample.

Non-destructive imaging of battery electrodes is crucial

Non-destructive imaging of a battery cell is needed at these different scales, but without compromising the structure. This is challenging because batteries are sensitive to air, and processing makes analysis difficult due to complex sample preparation methods. These might include cutting or opening, disassembly, and mounting.

ZEISS microscopy solutions allow you to solve these pressing research challenges in battery technology. Non-destructive X-ray microscopy for battery analysis is crucial if you want to study your samples at varying length scale without compromising the battery integrity or structure. In other words, you can take high resolution images without exposing sensitive components to air. This allows you to gain critical insights into battery lifetime changes, failure modes, and defects with in situ imaging and preserve the battery for further analysis via correlative and multiscale workflows later.

Your Next Step

ZEISS has a comprehensive and correlative portfolio that allows you to take non-destructive images at different lengths scales in 2D, 3D and 4D.

How-to Video

  • Non-destructive High-resolution Imaging of Batteries with X-ray Microscopy

Application Images

  • Lithium ion battery cross-section images from multiple sources

    Lithium ion battery cross-section images from multiple sources (light, electron microscopy) displayed in ZEN Connect software interface for visualization, inspection, and analysis.

  • Detail of lithium ion battery, acquired with Axio Zoom.V16 for materials, field of view 1,6 mm. Lithium ionic accumulator, 112x, brightfield.

  • XRM scans of an intact 18650 Li ion battery.

    XRM scans of an intact 18650 Li ion battery. The internal tomography reveals remarkable detail of the electrode level structure, including aging effects, foreign particles, and cracks. Xradia 620 Versa, field of view 14 mm.

  • 3D rendering of an intact 18650 lithium ion battery using Xradia Versa X-ray microscope.(Scale bar 5 mm).

  • Smart watch battery: ZEISS Xradia 620 Versa scans the intact battery to identify areas of interest and zoom-in for high resolution imaging.

  • 3D X-ray nanotomography imaging and digital material simulation to map diffusion behaviors

    3D X-ray nanotomography imaging and digital material simulation to map diffusion behaviors in an NMC lithium ion battery cathode. Image collected using Xradia 810 Ultra nanoscale X-ray microscope. Data analyzed using the battery analysis module of GeoDict by Math2Market, GmbH. The analyzed volume shown is 40 µm x 40 µm x 65 µm.

  • 3D renderings of electrode particles (left) and pore network (right)

    3D renderings of electrode particles (left) and pore network (right), showing the connected pore space (blue) as compared to the isolated porosity (yellow). The total connected porosity was measured to be 13.9 %, as compared to a total porosity of 14.4 %. Imaged with Xradia Ultra X-ray microscope.

Cross-section of lithium ion battery containing NCM cathode
Cross-section of lithium ion battery containing NCM cathode

Cross-section of lithium ion battery containing NCM cathode

Ceramic coated separator, and graphite & silicon anode imaged at 1 kV

The Inlens EsB signal (right) compared to the Inlens SE signal (left) provides added material contrast between graphite and silicon and reveals the ceramic coating on both sides of the polymer separator.


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