Development of Electrochemical Cell for Lithium Dendrite Formation using Atomic Force Microscopy

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The Ohio State University

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Due to a rapidly growing use of portable electronics in daily life, there has been increasing demand for developing next-generation lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries having a longer lasting battery life and lower safety risk. To meet the demand, many research efforts have been directed toward studying lithium dendrite formation. Lithium dendrite are lithium metal that is plated on the surface of anode during lithiation cycle. This phenomenon poses safety concern because Lidendrite can gradually grow on a surface during repeated charging/discharging and short-circuit battery cells. This not only leads to a premature cell failure but triggers thermal runaway of batteries. Plus, active lithium ions are consumed to form lithium dendrite, thereby reducing the capacity of batteries overtime. To address this issue, it is important to understand the mechanism of Li-dendrite growth while operating Li-ion battery cells. Many research groups have studied the Li-dendrite growth by using ex-situ characterization methods. On the other hand, by using in-situ characterization technique, one can collect live data on the evolution of the Li-dendrite while its growth rate would be controlled under various experimental parameters. The resulting data will provide a critical insight on the formation mechanism of the Li-dendrite and even an opportunity to find an approach to suppress it. In this regard, this study aims to characterize the Li-dendrite by using in-situ Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) in conjunction with an Electrochemistry Cell (EC cell). First, a unit cell was made using a copper foil as anode and NMC (Lithium Nickel Manganese Oxide) as cathode. All the cell assembling process was performed in an argon-filled glove box to avoid encapsulating 4 moisture or air in the cell. Next, the assembled EC cell was transferred to an AFM chamber and an in-situ AFM characterization was performed while it was charged/discharged under various current densities. AFM scans of the Li-dendrite growth on copper were taken in a set time interval to monitor evolutions of topography and mechanical properties. Results from this study will advance our fundamental understanding by filling a knowledge gap on the mechanical behavior of Li-dendrite growth.



Li-ion Battery, Lithium Dendrite, AFM