Battery Research

Battery Research

LIBs have a higher specific energy compared to the wide-spread lead-acid batteries. This made Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) today’s most powerful energy storage devices, commonly used in portable electronic devices, stationary power sources, and electric vehicles. Many of today’s advanced researchers are working to extend the cycle life time of the cells in order to make more efficient use of current- and future-generation technologies, while ensuring safety of operation for the end users. Much of this battery research is furthered through the use of flexible, high-resolution inspection equipment, such as light microscopes, electron microscopes, and X-ray microscopes. ZEISS offers all these microscopic techniques that span over a multi-scale, multi-modal range. Make the most of ZEISS microscopes for dedicated investigations on all components of LIBs.

During lithiation and delithiation, cathodes suffer from strain and stress. This leads to grain cracking, pore size changes, and contact loss of particles, all of which can decrease the cycle lifetime of the battery and reduce its operational safety. In addition, layer formation around particles can cause an increase in impedance. Analyze these with ZEISS light-, electron-, and x-ray microscopes. ZEISS Axio Zoom.V16 delivers fast, flexible, and high-resolution overview images across large specimen areas, enabling grain size distributions to be quantified in 2D. Extend these capabilities non-destructively to 3D with ZEISS Xradia Versa X-ray microscopes, produce models of the battery particle and pore geometries without the need to section the specimens. Additionally, produce high-resolution 3D information in the sub-surface regime using a focused ion beam SEM like ZEISS Crossbeam 550 with Atlas 5.

Battery Separator
Battery separators are polymeric membranes, critical for ensuring safe and efficient operation of the cells. During cycling, the separator may change its molecular direction, e.g. from uniaxial to biaxial, and any defects forming as a result may lead to short circuits. ZEISS recommends the field emission scanning electron microscope (FE-SEM) GeminiSEM 500: Due to its high resolution capabilities at low landing energies (e.g. 500 V) as well as NanoVP, a dedicated mode for imaging at higher pressures, less charging occurs and you can acquire crisp images even for sensitive, non-conductive samples GeminiSEM 500 is ideal for the analysis of this polymeric material. In addition, the integrated Raman system is the perfect tool for the differentiation between different types of polymers. The ZEISS X-ray microscope Xradia Ultra further offers the unique capability to visualize the membrane porosity in 3D, providing reliable input for ionic transport models across the separator.

Anodes are subject to similar failure modes as cathodes, but their key differences lie in composition: namely, the anode is typically made of graphite, in some cases complemented by tin or silicon. Any cracks or defects within the graphite particles lead to deviant ionic transport pathways, which, similar to the cathode layer, may reduce the overall cycle life characteristics of the cell. ZEISS Axio Imager 2 with its high resolving power makes it the ideal choice for crack analysis, providing quick access to the small defects. During the first charge and discharge cycle, an SEI (solid electrolyte interphase) is formed on the surface of the particles, which is widely believed to influence the cycle life characteristics of the battery. Profit from the low voltage, high resolution capabilities of ZEISS GeminiSEM 500 with an integrated Raman system to image cracks, SEI and graphite, and complementary analyze both the defect formation and chemical changes associated with aging. ZEISS Xradia Versa and Ultra both extend these visualization capabilities to 3D, revealing the pore and particle changes occurring over time.

Battery Binder
The binder within a Li-ion battery serves the unique dual purpose of holding the particles in place while facilitating ionic transport. Materials used as binders are typically polymeric (e.g., PvDF or CMC) and are notoriously difficult to image. Take advantage of ZEISS GeminiSEM 500: its high resolution performance especially at low voltages in combination with Raman spectroscopy visualize the homogeneity of the binder. These instruments working together produce a powerful imaging and analytical framework for binder characterization.

Air exposure
One of the main challenges during battery research is the transfer from the glove box to the measurement equipment because air, in particular oxygen and hydrogen exposure change the properties of the battery very quickly. The Sample Transfer Shuttle for ZEISS FE-SEMs mitigates this problem by avoiding air exposure. Transfer your sample easily and safely in vacuum or in an inert atmosphere.

Recommended Products for Battery Research

ZEISS Axio Zoom.V16

Your Axio Zoom.V16 delivers a high zoom range and effortlessly zooms in from the large scale embedded battery overview image to the finer details of the particles and pore networks. High lateral resolutions facilitate precise investigations of electrode architectures and the granularity of particle assemblies.



Your GeminiSEM delivers sub-nanometer resolution at low voltages (@500 V 1.2 nm) with high detection efficiency, even with non-conductive samples (such as embedded batteries). A 20 times greater Inlens detection signal ensures that crisp images of the aging effects will always be captured, quickly and with minimum sample damage.


ZEISS Xradia Versa

Your Xradia Versa X-ray microscope delivers industry-leading 3D image quality with spatial resolutions down to 700 nm. These capabilities allow the finer details of the particles and pore networks to be digitally extracted from the specimens, producing measurements of porosity and tortuosity, and exportable as meshed networks suitable for computational simulation and modeling. By using the non-destructive nature of X-ray imaging, the same specimen may be imaged intact without disrupting the package, allowing commercial parts and custom geometries to be imaged over multiple charge cycles. These results provide 4D input for understanding the evolution of specimen microstructure as a function of applied stimulus (e.g., aging, thermal treatment, mechanical load, etc.).