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Measuring Spatially Resolved Collective Ionic Transport on Lithium Battery Cathodes Using Atomic Force Microscopy

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journal contribution
posted on 19.06.2017, 00:00 by Aaron Mascaro, Zi Wang, Pierre Hovington, Yoichi Miyahara, Andrea Paolella, Vincent Gariepy, Zimin Feng, Tyler Enright, Connor Aiken, Karim Zaghib, Kirk H. Bevan, Peter Grutter
One of the main challenges in improving fast charging lithium-ion batteries is the development of suitable active materials for cathodes and anodes. Many materials suffer from unacceptable structural changes under high currents and/or low intrinsic conductivities. Experimental measurements are required to optimize these properties, but few techniques are able to spatially resolve ionic transport properties at small length scales. Here we demonstrate an atomic force microscope (AFM)-based technique to measure local ionic transport on LiFePO4 to correlate with the structural and compositional analysis of the same region. By comparing the measured values with density functional theory (DFT) calculations, we demonstrate that Coulomb interactions between ions give rise to a collective activation energy for ionic transport that is dominated by large phase boundary hopping barriers. We successfully measure both the collective activation energy and the smaller single-ion bulk hopping barrier and obtain excellent agreement with values obtained from our DFT calculations.

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