AbstractNickel-rich cathodes provide improved specific capacity that lead to higher gravimetric energy density, critical for electric vehicles. However, poor long-term capacity retention at elevated temperatures/high C-rates (the rate of charge and discharge on a battery) stem from material issues: surface phase changes, corrosive side reactions with the electrolyte, ion dissolution and propagation of cracks. Introducing dopants, developing nanoscale surface coatings and graded core-shell structures have all improved the electrochemical performance of nickel-rich cathodes. However, a material level understanding on the effect of Li composition and distribution in Ni-rich cathodes is limited, due to a lack of characterization methods available that can directly image Li at the nanoscale. Hence, it is critical to establish methods such as atom probe tomography (APT), having both nanometer scale spatial resolution and high compositional sensitivity to quantitatively analyze battery cathodes. To fully realize its potential as a method for quantitative compositional analysis of commercial Li-ion batteries, we provide a comprehensive description of the challenges in sample preparation and analyze the dependency of the analysis parameters, specifically laser pulse energy on the measured stoichiometry of elements in a high Ni content cathode material; LiNi0.8Co0.15Al0.05O2 (NCA). Our findings show the stoichiometry variations cannot be explained by charge state ratios or Ga implantation damage alone during FIB preparation, indicating that additional factors such as crystallographic orientation may need to be considered to achieve quantitative nanoscale compositional analysis of such battery cathodes using APT.
Published: January 27, 2023