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Temperature Effects on Lithium Dendrite Growth in Nanostructured Block Copolymer Electrolytes

X-ray tomography images of dendrites in cycled lithium cells. Typical electrolyte-spanning dendrite is shown for a cell cycled at a)90, b)105, and c)120oC. (d-f) 3D volume renderings of the dendrites show the difference in percentage of dendrite located within lithium electrodes versus in the electrolyte (between orange lines)

Scientific Achievement
Demonstrated the effect of battery cycling temperature on dendrite growth through a block copolymer electrolyte in lithium batteries.

Significance and Impact
This represents a step toward understanding the factors governing dendrite growth, which is a limiting factor in preventing the adoption of rechargeable lithium metal batteries.

Research Details

  • During battery cycling, lithium metal deposits unevenly on the anode, creating protrusions or ‘dendrites’ that grow and eventually short circuit the cell and render the battery unusable
  • A slight increase in battery cycling temperature was shown to result in a factor of five decrease in the amount of charge that could be passed before the battery short circuited
  • Synchrotron hard x-ray experiments revealed a shift in dendrite location from primarily within the lithium electrode at 90C to primarily within the electrolyte at 105C
  • Rheology measurements show a large change in mechanical properties over this temperature window
  • This represents an important step toward understanding factors that govern dendrite growth in viscoelastic electrolytes

N Schauser, K Harry, D Parkinson, H Watanabe, N Balsara. J Electrochemical Soc, 162(3) A3980A405 (2015)