Structural study of battery materials using synchrotron, neutron, and muon based techniques

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: School of Chemistry


The electrification of the powertrain and increasing adoption of battery powered vehicles is leading to cleaner transportation, especially in terms of local emissions. One of the key drivers for increased adoption of Li-ion batteries and their associated benefits is better battery materials, which store more energy, can be charged more quickly, are more durable. Johnson Matthey and the Harwell Innovation campus are looking to collaborate to provide an unprecedented level of structural understanding using complementary techniques available at the Harwell world class facilities.
The use of advanced synchrotron, neutron and muon techniques will be applied to lithium battery materials to solve the chemical structure in order to understand key material properties and understand Li mobility. The results will be related to electrochemical performance and durability to inform design of next generation products. Literature evidence and in-house computational chemistry has found that Li mobility in a range of battery materials can be enhanced and also hindered by anti-sites defects or vacancies. The multipath Li mobility will be analysed by muon spectroscopy while the average distribution of anti-sites will be studied by neutron PDF. Local structural data will be obtained by EXAFS. The data from these techniques will be simultaneously analysed and interpreted to provide a definitive study relating structure to key battery application metrics. The outcome will serve to validate computational chemistry results and provide conclusive knowledge on changes in chemical structure in a small set of materials both ex-situ and in operando under the following categories:
-intentional doping of elements to create anti-sites defects or vacancies altering Li mobility and electronic conductivity
-chemical changes due to charge cycling resulting in elemental migration and/or gas evolution
-nanostructural deterioration from volume expansion/contraction upon cycling


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R512096/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2022
1941810 Studentship EP/R512096/1 28/09/2017 30/09/2021 Kieran O'Regan