Researchers develop technique for producing boundary-free single crystals to enhance NMC efficiency


A crew led by researchers from Argonne Nationwide Laboratory has recognized a basic supply of instability in nickel-manganese-cobalt oxide (NMC) cathodes: the area boundaries which might be current in single-crystalline cathode particles. The researchers additionally devised a technique for producing boundary-free single crystals to enhance NMC efficiency. A paper on the work is printed in Nature Vitality.

By investigating single-crystalline cathodes with completely different area boundaries buildings, we present that the elimination of area boundaries enhances the reversible lattice oxygen redox whereas inhibiting the irreversible oxygen launch. This results in considerably suppressed structural degradation and improved mechanical integrity throughout battery biking and abuse heating. The strong oxygen redox enabled by means of area boundary management offers sensible alternatives in direction of high-energy, long-cycling, secure batteries.

—Liu et al.

Present NMC cathodes pose a serious barrier to operation at excessive voltage, defined Guiliang Xu, co-corresponding writer. With charge-discharge biking, efficiency quickly declines attributable to cracks forming within the cathode particles. For a number of a long time, battery researchers have been searching for methods to get rid of these cracks.

One previous method concerned microscale spherical particles consisting of quite a few a lot smaller particles. The big spherical particles are polycrystalline, with in a different way oriented crystalline areas. Consequently, they’ve grain boundaries between particles—which trigger cracking upon battery biking. To forestall this, Xu and Argonne colleagues had beforehand developed a protecting polymer coating round every particle. This coating surrounds the big spherical particles and smaller ones inside them.

A distinct method to keep away from this cracking entails single-crystal particles. Electron microscopy of those particles indicated they haven’t any boundaries.

16x9-Guiliang Image

Picture exhibits single crystals of cathode materials: (A) no inside boundaries and (B) inside boundaries seen. (Picture by Argonne Nationwide Laboratory.)

The issue the crew confronted was that cathodes comprised of each coated polycrystals and single crystals nonetheless shaped cracks with biking. So, they subjected these cathode supplies to intensive analyses on the Superior Photon Supply (APS) and Heart for Nanoscale Supplies (CNM), DOE Workplace of Science person services at Argonne.

Totally different X-ray analyses have been carried out at 5 APS beamlines (11-BM, 20-BM, 2-ID-D, 11-ID-C and 34-ID-E). It turned out that what scientists had believed have been single crystals, as evidenced by electron and X-ray microscopy, really had boundaries inside. Scanning and transmission electron microscopies at CNM verified the discovering.

Once we take a look at the floor morphology of those particles, they appear like single crystals. However once we use a method referred to as synchrotron X-ray diffraction microscopy and different methods on the APS, we discover boundaries hiding inside.

—Wenjun Liu, co-author

Importantly, the crew developed a technique for producing boundary-free single crystals. Testing of small cells with such single-crystal cathodes at very excessive voltage confirmed a 25% enhance in power storage per unit quantity, with virtually no lack of efficiency over 100 cycles of testing. Against this, over the identical cycle life, the capability declined by 60% to 88% in NMC cathodes composed of single crystals with many inside boundaries or with coated polycrystals.

Calculations on the atomic scale revealed the mechanism behind the capability decline within the cathode. In accordance with nanoscientist Maria Chan, in comparison with the areas away from them, boundaries are extra weak in direction of the lack of oxygen atoms when the battery is being charged. This oxygen loss results in degradation with cell biking.

Our calculations confirmed how boundaries result in oxygen launch at excessive voltage and, subsequently, efficiency decline.

—Maria Chan

Eliminating the boundaries prevents oxygen launch and thereby improves the cathode security and stability with biking. Oxygen launch measurements at APS and the Superior Gentle Supply at DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley Nationwide Laboratory supported this discovering.

We now have pointers that battery producers can use to arrange cathode materials that’s boundary-free and works at excessive voltage. And the rules ought to apply to different cathode supplies apart from NMC.

—Khalil Amine, an Argonne Distinguished Fellow and co-corresponding writer

Along with Xu, Amine, Liu and Chan, Argonne authors embody Xiang Liu, Venkata Surya Chaitanya Kolluru, Chen Zhao, Xinwei Zhou, Yuzi Liu, Liang Yin, Amine Daali, Yang Ren, Wenqian Xu, Junjing Deng, Inhui Hwang, Chengjun Solar, Tao Zhou, Ming Du and Zonghai Chen. Additionally contributing to this challenge have been scientists from Lawrence Berkeley Nationwide Laboratory (Wanli Yang, Qingtian Li and Zengqing Zhuo), Xiamen College (Jing-Jing Fan, Ling Huang and Shi-Gang Solar) and Tsinghua College (Dongsheng Ren, Xuning Feng and Minggao Ouyang).

The analysis was supported by the DOE Automobile Applied sciences Workplace.


  • Liu, X., Xu, GL., Kolluru, V.S.C. et al. (2022) “Origin and regulation of oxygen redox instability in high-voltage battery cathodes.” Nat Vitality doi: 10.1038/s41560-022-01036-3


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