X-Ray Microscopy Reveals Battery Secrets

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Sometimes it seems to us that scientific research is random because we have detailed photographs of Mars, and our cameras have been to the deepest parts of the ocean. Yet, we still have to best guess what happens inside batteries, as the words ‘electrodes exchange ions’ slip off our tongues. Now Berkeley National Lab has peeped inside them with a next-generation x-ray microscopy platform.

An X-Ray Microscopy Platform: What’s That?

x-ray microscopy

Installation in Storage Ring: Berkeley Laboratory

X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths shorter than ultraviolet rays, but usually longer than gamma ones. Therefore, they are able to penetrate certain materials to reveal what lies inside or beyond.

Moreover, x-ray microscopy uses electromagnetic radiation in the ‘soft’ x-ray band to produce magnified images of objects. Researchers at Berkeley National Lab have brought together ‘a unique set of capabilities to measure the properties of materials at the nanoscale… and probe working batteries’.

Berkeley National Lab has disclosed details of groundbreaking research using a next-generation x-ray microscopy platform. They say that have used psychographic computed tomography to map the location of reactions inside lithium-ion batteries in 3-D.

x-ray microscopy

First Light Emitted: Berkeley Laboratory

Psychographic computed tomography enables quantitative mapping of electron-density distribution in three dimensions. Voila! Does this mean we can finally actually see electrodes exchange ions? This appears to be the case.

Because lead researcher Young-Sang Yu told Berkley Lab News Center “We looked at a piece of a battery cathode in 3-D with a resolution that was unprecedented for X-rays. This provides new insight into battery performance both at the single-particle level and across statistically significant portions of a battery cathode.”

This new-generation x-ray microscopy technology allowed them to witness fluctuations in materials associated with magnetic and electronic properties in nanoseconds.


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Preview Image: Next-Generation Platform Lights Up


About Author


I tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will not deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time. My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast. I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned. Richard Farrell

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