X
X
X

Rare Supernova Discovery Ushers in New Era for Cosmology

With help from a supernova-hunting pipeline based at NERSC, astronomers captured multiple images of a gravitationally lensed Type 1a supernova. This is currently the only one, but if astronomers can find more they may be able to measure Universal expansion within four percent accuracy. Luckily, Berkeley Lab researchers do have a method for finding more.

Making Batteries From Waste Glass Bottles

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering have used waste glass bottles and a low-cost chemical process to create nanosilicon anodes for high-performance lithium-ion batteries. The batteries will extend the range of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and provide more power with fewer charges to personal electronics like cell phones and laptops.

Changing the Game

High performance computing researcher Shuaiwen Leon Song asked if hardware called 3D stacked memory could do something it was never designed to do--help render 3D graphics.

A Scientific Advance for Cool Clothing: Temperature-Wise, That Is

Stanford University researchers, with the aid of the Comet supercomputer at the San Diego Supercomputer at UC San Diego, have engineered a low-cost plastic material that could become the basis for clothing that cools the wearer, reducing the need for energy-consuming air conditioning.

Adjusting Solar Panel Angles a Few Times a Year Makes Them More Efficient

With Earth Day approaching, new research from Binghamton University-State of New York could help U.S. residents save more energy, regardless of location, if they adjust the angles of solar panels four to five times a year.

A Real CAM-Do Attitude

A multi-institutional team used resources at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility to catalog how desert plants photosynthetic processes vary. The study could help scientists engineer drought-resistant crops for food and fuel.

Predictive Power

The Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors carried out the largest time-dependent simulation of a nuclear reactor ever to support Tennessee Valley Authority and Westinghouse Electric Company during the startup of Watts Bar Unit 2, the first new US nuclear reactor in 20 years. The simulation was carried out primarily on OLCF resources.

Advantage: Water

When water comes in for a landing on the common catalyst titanium oxide, it splits into hydroxyls just under half the time. Water's oxygen and hydrogen atoms shift back and forth between existing as water or hydroxyls, and water has the slightest advantage, like the score in a highly competitive tennis game.

Self-Assembling Polymers Provide Thin Nanowire Template

In a recent study, a team of researchers from Argonne, the University of Chicago and MIT has developed a new way to create some of the world's thinnest wires, using a process that could enable mass manufacturing with standard types of equipment.

Did You Catch That? Robot's Speed of Light Communication Could Protect You From Danger

If you were monitoring a security camera and saw someone set down a backpack and walk away, you might pay special attention - especially if you had been alerted to watch that particular person. According to Cornell University researchers, this might be a job robots could do better than humans, by communicating at the speed of light and sharing images.


ORNL to Collaborate with Five Small Businesses to Advance Energy Tech

Five small companies have been selected to partner with the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory to move technologies in commercial refrigeration systems, water power generation, bioenergy and battery manufacturing closer to the marketplace.

U.S. Department of Energy's INCITE Program Seeks Advanced Computational Research Proposals for 2018

The Department of Energy's INCITE program will be accepting proposals for high-impact, computationally intensive research campaigns in a broad array of science, engineering, and computer science domains.

New Berkeley Lab Project Turns Waste Heat to Electricity

A new Berkeley Lab project seeks to efficiently capture waste heat and convert it to electricity, potentially saving California up to $385 million per year. With a $2-million grant from the California Energy Commission, Berkeley Lab scientists will work with Alphabet Energy to create a cost-effective thermoelectric waste heat recovery system.

New SLAC Theory Institute Aims to Speed Research on Exotic Materials at Light Sources

A new institute at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is using the power of theory to search for new types of materials that could revolutionize society - by making it possible, for instance, to transmit electricity over power lines with no loss.

Lenvio Inc. Exclusively Licenses ORNL Malware Behavior Detection Technology

Virginia-based Lenvio Inc. has exclusively licensed a cyber security technology from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory that can quickly detect malicious behavior in software not previously identified as a threat.

Argonne Scientist and Nobel Laureate Alexei Abrikosov Dies at 88

Alexei Abrikosov, an acclaimed physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory who received the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on superconducting materials, died Wednesday, March 29. He was 88.

Jefferson Lab Accomplishes Critical Milestones Toward Completion of 12 GeV Upgrade

The Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) at the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has achieved two major commissioning milestones and is now entering the final stretch of work to conclude its first major upgrade. Recently, the CEBAF accelerator delivered electron beams into two of its experimental halls, Halls B and C, at energies not possible before the upgrade for commissioning of the experimental equipment currently in each hall. Data were recorded in each hall, which were then confirmed to be of sufficient quality to allow for particle identification, a primary indicator of good detector operation.

Valerie Taylor Named Argonne National Laboratory's Mathematics and Computer Science Division Director

Computer scientist Valerie Taylor has been appointed as the next director of the Mathematics and Computer Science division at Argonne, effective July 3, 2017.

Three SLAC Employees Awarded Lab's Highest Honor

At a March 7 ceremony, three employees of the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory were awarded the lab's highest honor ­- the SLAC Director's Award.

Dan Sinars Represents Sandia in First Energy Leadership Class

Dan Sinars, a senior manager in Sandia National Laboratories' pulsed power center, which built and operates the Z facility, is the sole representative from a nuclear weapons lab in a new Department of Energy leadership program that recently visited Sandia.


Ultrafast Imaging Reveals the Electron's New Clothes

Scientists use high-speed electrons to visualize "dress-like" distortions in the atomic lattice. This work reveals the vital role of electron-lattice interactions in manganites. This material could be used in data-storage devices with increased data density and reduced power requirements.

One Small Change Makes Solar Cells More Efficient

For years, scientists have explored using tiny drops of designer materials, called quantum dots, to make better solar cells. Adding small amounts of manganese decreases the ability of quantum dots to absorb light but increases the current produced by an average of 300%.

Electronic "Cyclones" at the Nanoscale

Through highly controlled synthesis, scientists controlled competing atomic forces to let spiral electronic structures form. These polar vortices can serve as a precursor to new phenomena in materials. The materials could be vital for ultra-low energy electronic devices.

In a Flash! A New Way for Making Ceramics

A new process controllably but instantly consolidates ceramic parts, potentially important for manufacturing.

Deciphering Material Properties at the Single-Atom Level

Scientists determine the precise location and identity of all 23,000 atoms in a nanoparticle.

Smallest Transistor Ever

It has long been thought that building nanometer-sized transistors was impossible. Simply put, the physics and atomic structural imperfections couldn't be overcome. However, scientists built fully functional, nanometer-sized transistors.

Creation of Artificial Atoms

For the first time, scientists created a tunable artificial atom in graphene. The results from this research demonstrate a viable, controllable, and reversible technique to confine electrons in graphene.

Developing Tools to Understand Lithium-Ion Battery Instabilities

Scientists develop tools to understand Li-ion battery instabilities, enabling the study of electrodes and solid-electrolyte interphase formation.

Skyrmions Created with a Special Spiral

Researchers at Argonne have found a way to control the creation of special textured surfaces, called skyrmions, in magnetically ordered materials.

Coming Together, Falling Apart, and Starting Over, Battery Style

Scientists built a new device that shows what happens when electrode, electrolyte, and active materials meet in energy storage technologies.


Friday April 07, 2017, 11:05 AM

Champions in Science: Profile of Jonathan Kirzner

Department of Energy, Office of Science

Wednesday April 05, 2017, 12:05 PM

High-Schooler Solves College-Level Security Puzzle From Argonne, Sparks Interest in Career

Argonne National Laboratory

Tuesday March 28, 2017, 12:05 PM

Champions in Science: Profile of Jenica Jacobi

Department of Energy, Office of Science

Friday March 24, 2017, 10:40 AM

Great Neck South High School Wins Regional Science Bowl at Brookhaven Lab

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Wednesday February 15, 2017, 04:05 PM

Middle Schoolers Test Their Knowledge at Science Bowl Competition

Argonne National Laboratory

Friday January 27, 2017, 04:00 PM

Haslam Visits ORNL to Highlight State's Role in Discovering Tennessine

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Tuesday November 08, 2016, 12:05 PM

Internship Program Helps Foster Development of Future Nuclear Scientists

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Friday May 13, 2016, 04:05 PM

More Than 12,000 Explore Jefferson Lab During April 30 Open House

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

Monday April 25, 2016, 05:05 PM

Giving Back to National Science Bowl

Ames Laboratory

Friday March 25, 2016, 12:05 PM

NMSU Undergrad Tackles 3D Particle Scattering Animations After Receiving JSA Research Assistantship

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility

Tuesday February 02, 2016, 10:05 AM

Shannon Greco: A Self-Described "STEM Education Zealot"

Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Monday November 16, 2015, 04:05 PM

Rare Earths for Life: An 85th Birthday Visit with Mr. Rare Earth

Ames Laboratory

Tuesday October 20, 2015, 01:05 PM

Meet Robert Palomino: 'Give Everything a Shot!'

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Tuesday April 22, 2014, 11:30 AM

University of Utah Makes Solar Accessible

University of Utah

Wednesday March 06, 2013, 03:40 PM

Student Innovator at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Seeks Brighter, Smarter, and More Efficient LEDs

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday November 16, 2012, 10:00 AM

Texas Tech Energy Commerce Students, Community Light up Tent City

Texas Tech University

Wednesday November 23, 2011, 10:45 AM

Don't Get 'Frosted' Over Heating Your Home This Winter

Temple University

Wednesday July 06, 2011, 06:00 PM

New Research Center To Tackle Critical Challenges Related to Aircraft Design, Wind Energy, Smart Buildings

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday April 22, 2011, 09:00 AM

First Polymer Solar-Thermal Device Heats Home, Saves Money

Wake Forest University

Friday April 15, 2011, 12:25 PM

Like Superman, American University Will Get Its Energy from the Sun

American University

Thursday February 10, 2011, 05:00 PM

ARRA Grant to Help Fund Seminary Building Green Roof

University of Chicago

Tuesday December 07, 2010, 05:00 PM

UC San Diego Installing 2.8 Megawatt Fuel Cell to Anchor Energy Innovation Park

University of California San Diego

Monday November 01, 2010, 12:50 PM

Rensselaer Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center Announces First Deployment of New Technology on Campus

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Friday September 10, 2010, 12:40 PM

Ithaca College Will Host Regional Clean Energy Summit

Ithaca College

Tuesday July 27, 2010, 10:30 AM

Texas Governor Announces $8.4 Million Award to Create Renewable Energy Institute

Texas Tech University

Friday May 07, 2010, 04:20 PM

Creighton University to Offer New Alternative Energy Program

Creighton University

Wednesday May 05, 2010, 09:30 AM

National Engineering Program Seeks Subject Matter Experts in Energy

JETS Junior Engineering Technical Society

Wednesday April 21, 2010, 12:30 PM

Students Using Solar Power To Create Sustainable Solutions for Haiti, Peru

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Wednesday March 03, 2010, 07:00 PM

Helping Hydrogen: Student Inventor Tackles Challenge of Hydrogen Storage

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Thursday February 04, 2010, 02:00 PM

Turning Exercise into Electricity

Furman University

Thursday November 12, 2009, 12:45 PM

Campus Leaders Showing the Way to a Sustainable, Clean Energy Future

National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

Tuesday November 03, 2009, 04:20 PM

Furman University Receives $2.5 Million DOE Grant for Geothermal Project

Furman University

Thursday September 17, 2009, 02:45 PM

Could Sorghum Become a Significant Alternative Fuel Source?

Salisbury University

Wednesday September 16, 2009, 11:15 AM

Students Navigating the Hudson River With Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Wednesday September 16, 2009, 10:00 AM

College Presidents Flock to D.C., Urge Senate to Pass Clean Energy Bill

National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

Wednesday July 01, 2009, 04:15 PM

Northeastern Announces New Professional Master's in Energy Systems

Northeastern University

Friday October 12, 2007, 09:35 AM

Kansas Rural Schools To Receive Wind Turbines

Kansas State University

Thursday August 17, 2006, 05:30 PM

High Gas Prices Here to Stay, Says Engineering Professor

Rowan University

Wednesday May 17, 2006, 06:45 PM

Time Use Expert's 7-Year Fight for Better Gas Mileage

University of Maryland, College Park




Peering Into Batteries: X-Rays Reveal Lithium-Ion's Mysteries

Article ID: 664123

Released: 2016-11-03 09:00:40

Source Newsroom: Department of Energy, Office of Science

  • Credit: Photo courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory

    Argonne physicist Mahalingam Balasubramanian loads an in situ lithium-ion battery into the low-energy resolution inelastic X-ray (LERIX) system at the Advanced Photon Source. This multi-element X-ray scattering instrument is helping Argonne researchers to understand the fundamental mechanisms that limit batteries' performance.

Billions of smartphone owners are familiar with the dreaded “low battery” symbol on their devices. While consumers groan, scientists are working to understand why and when lithium-ion batteries in phones, plug-in electric vehicles, and other applications lose charge or fail.

One of the best tools scientists are using in this investigation is x-rays from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) advanced light sources. These light sources use beams of electrons to produce x-rays that are more than a billion times stronger than those at the dentist’s office. Compared to weaker x-rays available in other facilities, the light sources allow researchers to gather more data in greater detail than they would be able to otherwise. Scientists are using these unique tools to examine how lithium-ion batteries function in real time.

From the Lab to the Road

In the 1990s, existing battery materials simply weren’t suited for the level of power and performance needed for hybrid or plug-in electric vehicles. In response, researchers at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory used the Advanced Photon Source (APS), a DOE Office of Science user facility, to observe interactions within batteries at the atomic level for the first time.

The APS also lets scientists watch what’s happening at the atomic level as batteries are charging and discharging. With this understanding, manufacturers can improve batteries’ performance and lifetime and ultimately could craft more affordable and efficient electronics and plug-in electric vehicles.

Scientists do this by using the APS to look at batteries in situ, or while they are actually working. Previously, scientists ran tests on a battery, took it apart, and examined it under a microscope. In contrast, studying batteries in situ allows them both to watch atoms moving inside the battery and to measure the stability of the molecular structure during the charging and discharging process.

Once researchers supported by the Office of Science mapped out the fundamentals, they transferred the work to applied scientists supported by the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. That research led to a new cathode for lithium-ion batteries that was safer, more affordable, and able to store more energy than ever before. (The cathode is the positive electrode in a battery cell, which accepts lithium ions and electrons from the negative anode during discharge or use.) In fact, these advances were so significant that Chevrolet used the cathode in the first mass market plug-in electric vehicle – the Volt.

X-Rays: Hard and Soft

Both airport security machines and the APS produce “hard” x-rays, which are higher energy with shorter wavelengths (less than 1 nanometer or 1/100,000th the thickness of a piece of paper). Hard x-rays are very good at penetrating materials and looking at atomic structures.

In contrast, “soft” x-rays are lower energy with longer wavelengths (1-10 nanometers). While their wavelengths are too long to examine atomic structures, they provide “really exquisite chemical information,” according to David Shapiro, a physicist at DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). Using these x-rays, scientists can examine chemical states and these states’ transformations within nano-materials. The Advanced Light Source at LBNL, a DOE Office of Science user facility, is one of the world’s brightest sources of soft x-rays.

Each of these light sources allows scientists to study a different aspect of the lithium-ion puzzle.

“Every single technique has some sort of shortcoming with respect to the full story,” said Jason Croy, a materials scientist at Argonne. “[But] each technique can be really powerful to give you certain bits of information.”

In fact, researchers enjoy the challenge of piecing the diverse findings together.

“It’s a great field because it utilizes the strengths of all of the facilities,” said Shapiro.

Examining Batteries from Every Angle

Scientists from national laboratories, universities, and other research institutions are using the user facilities’ exceptional instruments to dig deeper into lithium’s interactions. The work at the three light sources is supported by DOE’s Office of Science.

Understanding How Atoms Move at Argonne: Researchers at Argonne are building on the work that contributed to the Chevrolet Volt’s cathode. The original study sought to understand the structure of lithium with manganese and other transition metal oxide forms before it went through multiple charge-discharge cycles.

Now, scientists are looking at how the battery’s structure degrades over time. As the battery charges and discharges, the lithium ions move in and out of the anode and cathode. However, other atoms within the electrodes move as well, causing damage and reducing the battery’s ability to deliver energy. Using the APS, scientists examined how these single atoms move and tracked how the structure changes with use.

Currently, researchers are altering batteries’ structures and seeing how those changes affect the batteries. Ideally, these modifications will increase the stability of the batteries’ structures, minimize degradation, and improve their performance.

Brookhaven Views Batteries in 5D: DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) recently added another dimension to battery research. They developed the most comprehensive look yet at batteries: a 3D chemical map at the nanometer scale that charts changes over time.

Normally, x-ray spectroscopy produces 2D images that show the average of what’s going on across an entire sample. It doesn’t show what’s happening in individual layers.

In contrast, the BNL team combined the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) – then a DOE user facility – and a unique full-field transmission x-ray microscope to develop a new x-ray nano-imaging technique. The scientists rotated battery samples 180 degrees under hard x-rays of different x-ray energies.

“This is the first time [we can] in-situ monitor the phase transformation in 3D at nanometer scale in a working battery cell,” said Jun Wang, a physicist at BNL.

Wang and her colleagues will continue their work at the NSLS-II, which will follow on from the original NSLS. The NSLS-II will eventually provide beams 10,000 times brighter than its predecessor, allowing scientists to study these reactions on an even finer time scale.

Fast vs. Slow Charging at Lawrence Berkeley: LBNL researchers are examining the same problem, but from a different perspective and using a different machine. Using soft x-rays from the Advanced Light Source (ALS), they’re looking at how the speed of charging and whether a battery is charging or discharging affects the distribution and transport of ions.

A team of researchers from Stanford University, working with LBNL, built a nanoscale see-through battery that has one ten-billionth of the charge of a smartphone. It allows them to observe the movement of individual lithium ions.

Ideally, ions should distribute themselves evenly across the electrodes as they move back and forth. Unfortunately, they don’t, causing stress in certain spots.

The team found that slow charging actually resulted in more irregular distribution than fast charging. This was surprising, considering that fast charging is usually considered more harmful to the battery. They also found that charging the battery caused more uneven distribution than discharging, or using the battery, does.

Building on this research, LBNL scientists may be able to reduce one source of damage to batteries, improving their performance and lifetime.

The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information please visit http://science.energy.gov.