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Functional Materials for Energy

Local detection of activation energy for ionic transport in lithium cobalt oxide


Topography (a) and spatially resolved map of the activation energy (b) for Li-ion transport in LiCoO2 thin film cathode material with nm resolution. The average activation energy can be extracted to 0.26 eV which fits well with macroscopic measurements and theoretical calculations.

A new scanning probe technique has led to the first measurements of the activation energy for Li-ion transport with nanometer resolution in the battery electrode material LiCoO2. Understanding ionic transport at the level of individual grains and grain facets is of great importance in improving future energy storage (battery) energy and conversion (fuel cell) devices. Until now, activation energies for ionic transport have been actively explored by electrochemical techniques on the macroscopic and device level, allowing only average values for the activation energy to be determined. In this work, temperature-dependent electrochemical strain microscopy (ESM) is used to measure the activation energy of Li-ion transport in LiCoO2 thin films on the nanometer scale, bridging the lengths scales of atomistic calculations and traditional macroscopic experiments. By understanding the local picture of Li-ion transport in electrode materials and its correlation with the microstructure, a better understanding of ionic flow through a battery can be developed, as is required for future improvements in battery technologies.

For more information, please contact Nina Balke, balken@ornl.gov

N. Balke, S. Kalnaus, N. J. Dudney, C. Daniel, S. Jesse, and S. V. Kalinin, "Local detection of activation energy for ionic transport in lithium cobalt oxide," Nano Lett. 12, 3399 (2012).

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