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Research Group Argonne Creates Probe for Research on Battery

Argonne group develops a powerful method for investigating in three dimensions the crystalline structure of cathode supplies at the nanoscale.

One of the powers of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory is its capability to assemble deep and broad multidisciplinary groups to solve complex scientific issues. These groups have at their disposal a wealth of world-class facilities for conducting analysis, including the Advanced Photon Source —a DOE Office of Science User Facility that gives ultra-bright, high-power X-ray beams for forefront materials analysis.

One such Argonne group has developed a powerful new approach for probing in three dimensions the crystalline microstructure for the cathode materials of next-gen batteries. Such batteries may one day revolutionize power storage for transportation as well as the electric grid.

The group included researchers from four Argonne divisions: Materials Science, Chemical Sciences and Engineering, Data Science and Learning, and X-ray Science. Postdoctoral nominee Matthew Krogstad in the Materials Science department was responsible for key improvements that made success in the challenge possible.

Additionally, the key to success was the use of the high-power X-ray beams available merely at synchrotron centers such as the APS and the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) positioned at Cornell University.

The fruit of this multidisciplinary venture is a crucial new tool for probing what occurs throughout the process of “intercalation”—the addition of ions between the layers of a cathode when a battery generates electricity. Following this course is “deintercalation”—the removal of those same ions from the cathode when a battery is charging.

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