MSE Special Seminar: Build Toward a Fossil Fuel-free Future: Next-generation Energy Storage Materials Design Guided by Advanced Multiscale Multidimensional Characterization

Engineering Tower 652
Ruoqian Lin

Chemistry Division
Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York

Abstract: The development of lithium ion batteries is one of the key innovations in the past decades that has revolutionized many aspects of our lives and changed how we interact with machines and the environment. However, building safe, high-energy, long-cycle-life and low-cost batteries is still a grand challenge for the research community. Many of the long-standing issues in the field are in part, if not all, due to the lack of characterization tools to resolve the failure modes and the degradation mechanism. In this talk, I will demonstrate that the adoption of a multimodal and multiscale investigation approach can unmask the ground truth at all scales from the individual atoms to the scale of a bulk electrode, remove ambiguity in the findings and offer unprecedented insight into the complex degradation pathway in the electrode materials. I will first talk about the study of lithium-rich layered oxides, which is a class of high-capacity layered cathode materials that can meet the high energy-density demand of electric vehicle batteries. These oxides are prone to oxygen release during charge/discharge cycles, which in turn leads to rapid voltage and capacity fading. So far, predicting how to slow down the oxygen loss and voltage fade in lithium-rich oxides remains elusive. To solve this conundrum, I use a combination of state-of-the-art synchrotron X-ray techniques, atomic-scale imaging and spectroscopy, electron tomography and ab initio calculation to provide a multidimensional and multifaceted understanding of the anomalous structural and chemical evolution in a lithium-rich ruthenium and manganese oxide. This study has profound implications. For the first time, it reveals the importance of studying the stability of the reconstructed film on the cathode materials, and offers a new and experimentally validated theoretical framework for the selection of proper transition metal elements for the surface of cathode materials in lithium ion batteries.

I will also present some of the newly developed methods for investigating electrode/electrolyte interfaces, such as low-dose cryogenic 3D electron tomography in conjunction with synchrotron X-ray-based surface probes, and share my visions for how to utilize them to solve the interfacial problems in metal anode batteries.  

Bio: Ruoqian Lin obtained her B.S. in pharmaceutical engineering in China. After that, she joined Stony Brook University and received training in energy storage, TEM and synchrotron X-ray techniques. After receiving her Ph.D. in 2018, she has been a postdoc working closely with the Battery500 Consortium, which is DOE’s flagship program on lithium ion batteries. This program supports more than 20 top battery scientists, including two Nobel Laureates. Lin has been recognized by both the battery and the EM community. She received the Battery500 Young Investigator Award in 2019, the Presidential Student Award from the Microscopy Society of America in 2016, and the Best Poster Award from the Battery500 Consortium in 2018.