DOE News
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    The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
    • 2015-01-08 15:00:00
    • Article ID: 628135

    Mapping of Silver Matrix Formation in Batteries Will Enhance Efficiency

    Stony Brook and Brookhaven scientists detail their pioneering x-ray techniques in Science paper

    • Study collaborators clockwise from bottom left: Amy Marschilok (SBU), David Bock (SBU), Kevin Kirshenbaum (BNL), Kenneth Takeuchi (BNL), and Zhong Zhong (BNL); ), and Esther Takeuchi (BNL & SBU) at the XPD beamline of the National Synchrotron Light Source II, where future experiments may build on their research.

    STONY BROOK, N.Y., January 8, 2015 – Scientists at Stony Brook University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory are using pioneering x-ray techniques to map internal atomic transformations of the highly conductive silver matrix formation within lithium-based batteries that may lead to the design of more efficient batteries. Their findings are published online today in the journal Science.

    In a promising lithium-based battery, the formation of a silver matrix transforms a material otherwise plagued by low conductivity. To optimize these multi-metallic batteries—and enhance the flow of electricity—scientists need a way to see where, when, and how these silver, nanoscale “bridges” emerge. In the research paper, the Stony Brook and Brookhaven Lab team successfully mapped this changing atomic architecture and revealed its link to the battery’s rate of discharge. The study shows that a slow discharge rate early in the battery’s life creates a more uniform and expansive conductive network, suggesting new design approaches and optimization techniques.

    “Armed with this insight into battery cathode discharge processes, we can target new materials designed to address critical battery issues associated with power and efficiency,” said study coauthor Esther Takeuchi, a SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Stony Brook University and Chief Scientist in Brookhaven Lab’s Basic Energy Sciences Directorate.

    The scientists used bright x-ray beams at Brookhaven Lab’s National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS)—a DOE Office of Science user facility—to probe lithium batteries with silver vanadium diphosphate (Ag2VP2O8) electrodes. This promising cathode material—known as SVOP—exhibits the high stability, high voltage, and spontaneous matrix formation central to the research and potentially useful in implantable medical devices.

    “The experimental work—in particular the in-situ x-ray diffraction in batteries totally encased in stainless steel—should prove useful for industry as it can penetrate prototype and production-level batteries to track their structural evolution during operation,” Takeuchi said.

    As these single-use batteries—synthesized and assembled by Stony Brook graduate student David Bock—discharge, the lithium ions stored in the anode travel to the cathode, displacing silver ions along the way. The displaced silver then combines with free electrons and unused cathode material to form the conductive silver metal matrix, acting as a conduit for the otherwise impeded electron flow.

    “To visualize the cathode processes within the battery and watch the silver network take shape, we needed a very precise system with high-intensity x-rays capable of penetrating a steel battery casing,” said study coauthor and Stony Brook University Research Associate Professor Amy Marschilok. “So we turned to NSLS.”

    Energy dispersive x-ray diffraction (EDXRD) at NSLS provided this real-time—in situ—visualization data. In EDXRD, intense beams of x-rays passed through the sample, losing energy as the battery structure bent the beams. Each set of detected beam angles, like time-lapse images, revealed the shifting chemistry as a function of battery discharge.

    “The silver forms in particles spanning less than 10 nanometers, and the diffraction patterns can be both dense and faint,” said Brookhaven Lab scientist Zhong Zhong, who performed the critical alignment for the x-ray experiments at NSLS.

    Once the data was collected, Brookhaven Lab postdoctoral researcher and study coauthor Kevin Kirshenbaum led the data analysis effort.

    “This kind of analysis and interpretation requires considerable time and expertise, but the results can be stunning,” Kirshenbaum said.

    NSLS ended its 32-year experimental run in September 2014, but its powerful successor is already taking data at Brookhaven Lab. The National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) provides beams 10,000 times brighter than NSLS. The team plans to use this new source to continue their battery research.

    “We are currently working on other materials that form conductive networks and hope to study them as functioning cells,” coauthor Kenneth Takeuchi said. “The brighter beams and greater spatial resolution of NSLS-II will be a great tool in studying other cathodes and pushing this technology forward.”

    This research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

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    Scaling forward

    Scaling forward

    An Argonne scientist has new ways of accelerating the development of new organic materials for electronics. The new approaches could have applications in other types of materials science research.

    Optical "tweezers" combine with X-rays to enable analysis of crystals in liquids

    Optical "tweezers" combine with X-rays to enable analysis of crystals in liquids

    Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new technique that combines the power of microscale "tractor beams" with high-powered X-rays, enabling them to see and manipulate crystals freely floating in solution.

    The Best Topological Conductor Yet: Spiraling Crystal Is the Key to Exotic Discovery

    The Best Topological Conductor Yet: Spiraling Crystal Is the Key to Exotic Discovery

    A team of researchers working at Berkeley Lab has discovered the strongest topological conductor yet, in the form of thin crystal samples that have a spiral-staircase structure. The team's result is reported in the March 20 edition of the journal Nature.

    Neutrons paint atomic portrait of prototypical cell signaling enzyme

    Neutrons paint atomic portrait of prototypical cell signaling enzyme

    Direct observations of the structure and catalytic mechanism of a prototypical kinase enzyme--protein kinase A or PKA--will provide researchers and drug developers with significantly enhanced abilities to understand and treat fatal diseases and neurological disorders such as cancer, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis. The discovery was made by an international team of researchers using macromolecular neutron crystallography at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France.

    Speeding the development of fusion power to create unlimited energy on Earth

    Speeding the development of fusion power to create unlimited energy on Earth

    A detailed examination of the challenges and tradeoffs in the development of a compact fusion facility with high-temperature super-conducting magnets.

    Bright Skies for Plant-Based Jet Fuels

    Bright Skies for Plant-Based Jet Fuels

    With an estimated daily fuel demand of more than 5 million barrels per day, the global aviation sector is incredibly energy-intensive and almost entirely reliant on petroleum-based fuels. However, a new analysis by scientists at Berkeley Lab shows that sustainable plant-based bio-jet fuels could provide a competitive alternative to conventional fuels if current development and scale-up initiatives continue to push ahead successfully.

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    Sampling Guts of Live Moose to Understand How They Break Down Biomass

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    Cause of Cathode Degradation Identified for Nickel-rich Materials

    Cause of Cathode Degradation Identified for Nickel-rich Materials

    A team of scientists including researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have identified the causes of degradation in a cathode material for lithium-ion batteries, as well as possible remedies. Their findings, published on Mar. 7 in Advanced Functional Materials, could lead to the development of more affordable and better performing batteries for electric vehicles.

    Uncovering Uncultivated Microbes in the Human Gut

    Uncovering Uncultivated Microbes in the Human Gut

    A human's health is shaped both by environmental factors and the body's interactions with the microbiome, particularly in the gut. Genome sequences are critical for characterizing individual microbes and understanding their functional roles. However, previous studies have estimated that only 50 percent of species in the gut microbiome have a sequenced genome, in part because many species have not yet been cultivated for study.

    Scientists Track Patterns of Island Growth in Crystals

    Scientists Track Patterns of Island Growth in Crystals

    In a new study from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, scientists have found that the seemingly random arrangement of islands that form to begin new layers during crystal growth can actually be very similar from layer to layer. The discovery may help scientists better understand of some of the mechanisms behind defect formation, as well as develop techniques to synthesize new types of crystals.


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    Brookhaven Lab Publishes Second Edition of Nuclear Nonproliferation Textbook

    Brookhaven Lab Publishes Second Edition of Nuclear Nonproliferation Textbook

    Brookhaven Lab has published the second edition of Deterring Nuclear Proliferation: The Importance of IAEA Safeguards, a textbook that provides a history of the origins of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and introduces the ways in which IAEA verifies nation states' nuclear nonproliferation commitments.

    PPPL's Young Women's Conference Offers Girls Fun and Inspiration in STEM Fields

    PPPL's Young Women's Conference Offers Girls Fun and Inspiration in STEM Fields

    PPPL's Young Women's Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics on Friday, March 22, at Princeton University, seeks to change the statistics that show women still lag far behind men in the STEM fields. The conference offers 7th to 10th-grade girls hands-on science activities, exciting experiments, and talks and a keynote speech by early-career female scientists.

    U.S. Department of Energy and Intel to deliver first exascale supercomputer

    U.S. Department of Energy and Intel to deliver first exascale supercomputer

    Intel Corporation and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will deliver the first supercomputer with a performance of one exaFLOP in the United States. The system being developed at DOE's Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago -- named "Aurora" -- will be used to dramatically advance scientific research and discovery.

    PPPL physicist receives funding to research improvements to unique fusion device

    PPPL physicist receives funding to research improvements to unique fusion device

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory physicist Sam Cohen will receive $700,000 in the form of a subcontract from a $1.25 million award from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to upgrade and operate his Princeton Field Reversed Configuration device, the PFRC-2. The data produced could allow the design of future devices that might one day be used as a portable generator.

    DOE extends University PPPL contract

    DOE extends University PPPL contract

    The DOE has extended until 2022 its contract with Princeton University to manage the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, which is dedicated to enabling the scientific breakthroughs required to develop fusion as a safe, clean and abundant energy source.

    Fermilab, international partners break ground on new state-of-the-art particle accelerator

    Fermilab, international partners break ground on new state-of-the-art particle accelerator

    With a ceremony held on March 15, the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory officially broke ground on a major new particle accelerator project that will power cutting-edge physics experiments for many decades to come.

    Argonne's Ali Erdemir elected to National Academy of Engineering for pivotal discoveries in tribology

    Argonne's Ali Erdemir elected to National Academy of Engineering for pivotal discoveries in tribology

    Distinguished Fellow Ali Erdemir from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory has been elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to engineers.

    Department of Energy to Provide $30 Million for Fusion Research on International Facilities

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a plan to provide $30 million for experimental research on magnetic fusion energy science at international fusion facilities known as tokamaks.

    HPC4Manufacturing Program names four awardees for latest round of DOE funding

    HPC4Manufacturing Program names four awardees for latest round of DOE funding

    The High Performance Computing for Manufacturing Program (HPC4Mfg) today announced the recipients of $1.2 million in federal funding for four public/private projects aimed at solving key manufacturing challenges in steelmaking and aluminum production through supercomputing.

    DOE Announces $100 Million in Small Business Innovation and Technology Funding

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs issued its FY 2019 Phase II Release 2 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) with approximately $100 million in available funding.


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    A Detailed View of the Ancestor of Photosynthesis

    A Detailed View of the Ancestor of Photosynthesis

    The symmetrical light-gathering, energy-producing complex offers insights into how modern photosystems evolved.

    Some Bacteria Make a Big Difference in Dryland Wheat Farming

    Some Bacteria Make a Big Difference in Dryland Wheat Farming

    Even a single species of bacteria can positively affect soils and plants, improving and even enabling agriculture in semi-arid areas.

    Sampling Guts of Live Moose to Understand How They Break Down Biomass

    Sampling Guts of Live Moose to Understand How They Break Down Biomass

    First-of-a-kind study advances understanding of microbial and viral communities involved in biomass breakdown.

    Fitting a Square Peg in a Round Hole: The Surprising Structure of Uranium Bound in Hematite

    Fitting a Square Peg in a Round Hole: The Surprising Structure of Uranium Bound in Hematite

    An atomic view of how toxic uranium binds to iron minerals in the environment enables better predictions of its behavior.

    How Injected Microbes Persist in Hydraulically Fractured Shale

    How Injected Microbes Persist in Hydraulically Fractured Shale

    Scientists reveal the importance of an amino acid that supplies energy and protection for microbial communities deep underground.

    Unique Interface and Unexpected Behavior Help Explain How Heavy Metals Act

    Unique Interface and Unexpected Behavior Help Explain How Heavy Metals Act

    Three types of water molecules form around a platinum-based ion, offering insights for waste processing and metal refining.

    To Grow or Not to Grow? That Is the Question for Plants

    To Grow or Not to Grow? That Is the Question for Plants

    Scientists show metabolic tradeoffs result from a specific change to the grow-defend balance.

    Forming the Ion that Made the Universe

    Forming the Ion that Made the Universe

    Research offers details on the chemistry of trihydrogen ion.

    Water: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

    Water: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

    Elegant theory shows how water helps separate ions involved in material synthesis and manufacturing.

    Seeing Coherent Patterns at the Microscopic Scale

    Seeing Coherent Patterns at the Microscopic Scale

    Review highlights insights into coherence, which could help overcome roadblocks in next-generation energy systems.


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