Synchrotron X-ray Analytical Techniques for Studying Materials Electrochemistry in Rechargeable Batteries

Publication Type

Journal Article

Date Published





Rechargeable battery technologies have ignited major breakthroughs in contemporary society, including but not limited to revolutions in transportation, electronics, and grid energy storage. The remarkable development of rechargeable batteries is largely attributed to in-depth efforts to improve battery electrode and electrolyte materials. There are, however, still intimidating challenges of lower cost, longer cycle and calendar life, higher energy density, and better safety for large scale energy storage and vehicular applications. Further progress with rechargeable batteries may require new chemistries (lithium ion batteries and beyond) and better understanding of materials electrochemistry in the various battery technologies. In the past decade, advancement of battery materials has been complemented by new analytical techniques that are capable of probing battery chemistries at various length and time scales. Synchrotron X-ray techniques stand out as one of the most effective methods that allow for nearly nondestructive probing of materials characteristics such as electronic and geometric structures with various depth sensitivities through spectroscopy, scattering, and imaging capabilities. This article begins with the discussion of various rechargeable batteries and associated important scientific questions in the field, followed by a review of synchrotron X-ray based analytical tools (scattering, spectroscopy, and imaging) and their successful applications (ex situ, in situ, and in operando) in gaining fundamental insights into these scientific questions. Furthermore, electron microscopy and spectroscopy complement the detection length scales of synchrotron X-ray tools and are also discussed toward the end. We highlight the importance of studying battery materials by combining analytical techniques with complementary length sensitivities, such as the combination of X-ray absorption spectroscopy and electron spectroscopy with spatial resolution, because a sole technique may lead to biased and inaccurate conclusions. We then discuss the current progress of experimental design for synchrotron experiments and methods to mitigate beam effects. Finally, a perspective is provided to elaborate how synchrotron techniques can impact the development of next-generation battery chemistries.



Chemical Reviews



Year of Publication