Rechargeable batteries lie at the heart of transformative technology for applications such as electric vehicles or energy storage for renewable energy sources. There is a pressing demand for high-performance rechargeable battery power that can operate safely under increasingly stringent conditions. Determining the state of charge and the state of health of a battery cell, as well as the projected lifetime is difficult. This project will develop a new scanning technology, based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), as a robust and reliable nondestructive tool for batteries. The fact that it can detect changes in materials' properties and behavior inside batteries in a noninvasive manner during device operation and provide information on certain battery failure mechanisms, sets it apart from the techniques used today. The fundamental study of device properties during operation will enable the development of new cell materials and quicker and more accurate assessment of the qualities of different components, which will be critical for the next step in battery science. For educational impacts, the PI will emphasize opportunities for undergraduate research emphasizing women and underrepresented minorities in STEM by working with Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs). The project will also enrich an original outreach program to students of art restoration programs with the use of the MRI/NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) techniques on the use of chemistry in art restoration.
The fundamental research of this project is based on the detection of small induced magnetic field changes within cells in lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). The technique will work with other cell chemistries as well. These measurements provide a direct link to quantifying electrode lithiation levels and to the current distributions in cells during charging. This project will conduct fundamental research on a diagnostic tool for studying battery cells during operation, and thus will facilitate the development of next-generation battery technology. The project aims are: (1) Determine cell susceptibility through non-destructive MRI; (2) Measurement of localized and component-based susceptibility distributions throughout charging/discharging and (3) Detect current distributions within the cells by MRI. The expected outcome of this project is a robust and versatile MRI methodology for testing and assessing advanced battery chemistries during device operation. The measurements are based on imaging magnetic susceptibility and electrical current distributions inside cells. The techniques will be applicable to a broad range of electrochemical devices beyond the immediate ones studied in this work. Upon successful completion of the project, the technology will allow monitoring in operando the state of charge and state of health of batteries, as well as a number of cell failure modes, and thus aid in the development of next-generation, energy-efficient and safe batteries.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.