Demands of lithium battery manufacturing
Thanks to their high energy density, lithium batteries are in high demand. As the need for electric vehicles, battery-operated machinery, and solar power storage continues to rise, the market for lithium batteries is expected to nearly triple to $116 billion by 2030.
As manufacturers work to improve the performance of lithium batteries, quality control plays a major role. Researchers need to ensure the quality of the raw and processed materials used to manufacture the battery. They also need to assess the quality of battery components as they’re manufactured. Any quality control issues along the way can jeopardize the performance, safety, and longevity of the final lithium battery.
By using a Thermo Scientific Phenom XL Desktop Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) in combination with other technologies available from Thermo Fisher Scientific such as microCT, DualBeam or XPS users can quickly analyze battery materials and components, obtaining the high-resolution data they need to optimize lithium battery performance.
Assessing the quality of raw and processed battery materials
When choosing raw materials, a key factor is the materials used as electrodes. These materials can include lithium metal oxide, graphite, silicon, and sulfur-based particles, and their quality is critical to the performance of the final battery.
To optimize the performance, capacity, and stability of the final lithium battery, it’s critical that researchers analyze the size and morphology of particles within the electrode material. Yet the challenge is that these particles have sub-micron sizes. Using the Phenom XL Desktop SEM in combination with our SmartScan image acquisition automation tool, users can quickly and accurately analyze sub-micron electrode materials, obtaining both their size and morphology.
The Phenom XL Desktop SEM can be equipped with both our SmartScan tool and Thermo Scientific ParticleMetric Software to confirm the quality of raw and processed materials used for lithium battery electrodes.
The cerium hexaboride (CeB6) electron source of the Phenom XL Desktop SEM generates the high-resolution images required to analyze sub-micron size particles. SmartScan enables users to automatically obtain images from multiple samples, and ParticleMetric Software provides fully automated particle detection and measurements.
Using a Phenom XL Desktop SEM in combination with SmartScan and ParticleMetric Software, lithium battery manufacturers can capture size and morphology data on thousands of sub-micron particles in minutes.
By combining the Phenom XL Desktop SEM with SmartScan and ParticleMetric Software, our customer can collect size and morphological information on thousands of sub-micron particles within minutes. The customer can compare the difference in size and morphology in the material particles provided by different suppliers or determine changes in particle size and morphology resulting from different processing methods.
Discovering defects during the manufacturing process
As manufacturers optimize the performance of the final lithium battery, it’s also important to check the quality of the cathode electrode surface. Any defects or contamination can cause the final lithium battery to rapidly degrade, shortening its overall lifespan.
One of our customers in China is using the Phenom XL Desktop SEM for studying defects that arise during manufacture. The customer chose the Phenom Desktop SEM for doing quality control checks of cathode electrodes because it wanted as much information as possible in order to avoid any defects.
Employing the Phenom XL Desktop SEM together with 3D reconstruction software, the manufacturer can detect the presence of defects and contaminants as well as determine their source.
Using the Phenom XL Desktop SEM, lithium battery manufacturers can easily detect abnormal regions of cathode electrodes (left) where the area appears more porous and the cathode particles flattened and fractured.
The customer is also using the built-in energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) capabilities of the Phenom Desktop SEM to confirm that elements such as nickel, cobalt, and manganese are dispersed homogenously, which is critical for the battery’s performance. Together, this information helps the manufacturer to preemptively detect defects and contamination that may otherwise lead to performance and safety issues later down the road.
Manufacturing the high-quality lithium batteries of the future
Using the Phenom XL Desktop SEM, researchers can ensure the quality of lithium batteries at every step of the manufacturing process—from the raw materials used to the final components produced. With the fast, accurate information they need, manufacturers can accelerate their innovation as they work to power our global future.
Willem van Zyl is an application engineer at Thermo Fisher Scientific.