Argonne researchers discover cathode materials synthesis a key cause for efficiency degradation of sodium-ion batteries

Argonne researchers discover cathode materials synthesis a key cause for efficiency degradation of sodium-ion batteries


One of many extra promising candidates for batteries past the present commonplace of lithium-ion supplies is the sodium-ion (Na-ion) battery. Na-ion is especially engaging due to the higher abundance and decrease price of sodium in contrast with lithium. As well as, when cycled at excessive voltage (4.5 V), a sodium-ion battery can tremendously improve the quantity of vitality that may be saved in a given weight or quantity. Nonetheless, its pretty fast efficiency decline with charge-discharge biking has stymied commercialization.

Researchers on the US Division of Vitality’s (DOE) Argonne Nationwide Laboratory have now found a key cause for the efficiency degradation: the prevalence of defects within the atomic construction that type throughout the steps concerned in synthesizing the cathode materials.

These defects finally result in a structural earthquake within the cathode, leading to catastrophic efficiency decline throughout battery biking. With this data, battery builders will now be capable to modify synthesis circumstances to manufacture far superior sodium-ion cathodes.

The crew revealed their analysis in an open-access paper in Nature Communications.

Key to creating this discovery was the crew’s reliance on the capabilities obtainable at Argonne’s Heart for Nanoscale Supplies (CNM) and Superior Photon Supply (APS), each of that are DOE Workplace of Science consumer services. These capabilities allowed the researchers to trace modifications within the atomic construction of the cathode materials in actual time whereas it was being synthesized, stated Guiliang Xu, assistant chemist in Argonne’s Chemical Sciences and Engineering division.

Throughout cathode synthesis, materials fabricators slowly warmth the cathode combination to a really excessive temperature in air, maintain it there for a set period of time, then quickly drop the temperature to room temperature.

To see what was taking place throughout the synthesis, the crew used transmission electron microscope in CNM and synchrotron X-ray beams on the APS (at beamlines 11-ID-C and 20-BM).

The information revealed that, upon quickly dropping the temperature throughout materials synthesis, the cathode particle floor had turn out to be much less easy and exhibited giant areas indicating pressure. The information additionally confirmed {that a} push-pull impact in these areas occurs throughout cathode biking, inflicting cracking of the cathode particles and efficiency decline.

TEM characterization on cycled O3 NaNi0.4Mn0.4Co0.2O2 cathode particle (2.0–4.4 V for 100 cycles). a Low and b excessive magnification TEM picture. c Zoomed-in view of the dashed sq. space in b. d, e Zoomed-in views of the dashed rectangle space in a. f Zoomed-in view of dot-circle space in a. g Schematic illustration of the structural earthquake throughout biking of strained O3 NaNi0.4Mn0.4Co0.2O2 cathode. R and L in d, e represents rock-salt and layered construction, respectively. Yellow and grey octahedra represents NaO6 and TMO6 of a layered construction, respectively. Purple octahedra means rock-salt construction. Xu et al.

Upon additional examine, the crew discovered that this degradation intensified when biking cathodes at excessive temperature (130 levels Fahrenheit) or with quick charging (one hour as a substitute of 10 hours).

Our insights are extraordinarily essential for the large-scale manufacturing of improved sodium-ion cathodes. Due to the big quantity of fabric concerned, say, 1000 kilograms, there might be a big temperature variation, which is able to result in many defects forming until acceptable steps are taken.

—Khalil Amine, an Argonne Distinguished Fellow

Earlier analysis by crew members had resulted in a tremendously improved anode.

Now, we must always be capable to match our improved cathode with the anode to achieve a 20% – 40% improve in efficiency. Additionally essential, such batteries will preserve that efficiency with long-term biking at excessive voltage.

—Guiliang Xu

The impression may end in an extended driving vary in additional reasonably priced electrical automobiles and decrease price for vitality storage on the electrical grid.

This analysis was supported by DOE’s Automobile Applied sciences Workplace.


  • Xu, GL., Liu, X., Zhou, X. et al. “Native lattice pressure induced structural earthquake in sodium layered oxide cathodes.” Nat Commun 13, 436 doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-28052-x


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December 2022