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Quantifying Reaction and Rate Heterogeneity in Battery Electrodes in 3D through Operando X-ray Diffraction Computed Tomography

Liu, Hao, Kazemiabnavi, Saeed, Grenier, Antonin, Vaughan, Gavin, Di Michiel, Marco, Polzin, Bryant J., Thornton, Katsuyo, Chapman, Karena W., Chupas, Peter J.
ACS applied materials & interfaces 2019 v.11 no.20 pp. 18386-18394
X-ray diffraction, batteries, cathodes, computed tomography, energy, geometry, models
In composite battery electrode architectures, local limitations in ionic and electronic transport can result in nonuniform energy storage reactions. Understanding such reaction heterogeneity is important to optimizing battery performance, including rate capability and mitigating degradation and failure. Here, we use spatially resolved X-ray diffraction computed tomography to map the reaction in a composite electrode based on the LiFePO₄ active material as it undergoes charge and discharge. Accelerated reactions at the electrode faces in contact with either the separator or the current collector demonstrate that both ionic and electronic transport limit the reaction progress. The data quantify how nonuniformity of the electrode reaction leads to variability in the charge/discharge rate, both as a function of time and position within the electrode architecture. Importantly, this local variation in the reaction rate means that the maximum rate that individual cathode particles experience can be substantially higher than the average, control charge/discharge rate, by a factor of at least 2–5 times. This rate heterogeneity may accelerate rate-dependent degradation pathways in regions of the composite electrode experiencing faster-than-average reaction and has important implications for understanding and optimizing rate-dependent battery performance. Benchmarking multiscale continuum model parameters against the observed reaction heterogeneity permits extension of these models to other electrode geometries.