Characterization of electrodes in lithium-ion batteries by nanoindentation

Lithium-ion batteries are composed of thin metallic electrodes coated with metal oxides or carbon. Their performance depends among other factors also on the homogeneity of the electrode coatings and mechanical properties of the particles in the coating. This application report shows the contribution of nanoindentation to the development of Li-ion batteries.

Lithium-ion (LIB) batteries have been commercialized in the 1990s and they are currently the leading technology for the electric vehicles (EV) market.
The today’s LIB structure is mostly based on Cu current collector with carbon coating (anode), liquid electrolyte with separator and Al current collector with lithium based active coating (cathode). While the anode has remained more or less unchanged in the last two decades, the Li-based coating on the cathode has undergone an important development.
Originally, the material for the cathode coating was lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoOx).
To increase the energy density and allow for faster charging new types of coatings such as lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4), lithium ion manganese oxide (LiMn2O4, LMO) or lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (LiNiMnCoO2, NMC) have been developed.
The NMC-type battery is used mainly in automotive applications.
The electrodes in the LIB are separated by a separator and filled with an electrolyte (e.g. LiPF6) which ensures lithium ion and electron transfer during charging and discharging of the battery.

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