Monitoring LixFeSO4F (x = 1, 0.5, 0) Phase Distributions in Operando To Determine Reaction Homogeneity in Porous Battery Electrodes

Increasing the energy and power density simultaneously remains a major challenge for improving electrochemical energy storage devices such as Li-ion batteries. Understanding the underlying processes in operating electrodes is decisive to improve their performance. Here, an extension of an in operando X-ray diffraction technique is presented, wherein monitoring the degree of coexistence between crystalline phases in multiphase systems is used to investigate reaction homogeneity in Li-ion batteries. Thereby, a less complicated experimental setup using commercially available laboratory equipment could be employed. By making use of the intrinsic structural properties of tavorite type LiFeSO4F, a promising cathode material for Li-ion batteries, new insights into its nonequilibrium behavior are gained. Differences in the reaction mechanism upon charge and discharge are shown; the influence of adequate electronic wiring for the cycling stability is demonstrated, and the effect of solid state transport on rate performance is highlighted. The methodology is an alternative and complementary approach to the expensive and demanding techniques commonly employed for time-resolved studies of structural changes in operating battery electrodes. The multiphase behavior of LiFeSO4F is commonly observed for other insertion type electrode materials, making the methodology transferable to other new energy storage materials. By expanding the possibilities for investigating complex processes in operating batteries to a larger community, faster progress in both electrode development and fundamental material research can be realized.