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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Soft X-ray emission spectroscopy of liquids and lithium battery materials


Lithium ion insertion into electrode materials is commonly used in rechargeable battery technology. The insertion implies changes in both the crystal structure and the electronic structure of the electrode material. Side-reactions may occur on the surface of the electrode which is exposed to the electrolyte and form a solid electrolyte interface (SEI). The understanding of these processes is of great importance for improving battery performance. The chemical and physical properties of water and alcohols are complicated by the presence of strong hydrogen bonding. Various experimental techniques have been used to study geometrical structures and di(R)erent models have been proposed to view the details of how these liquids are geometrically organized by hydrogen bonding. However, very little is known about the electronic structure of these liquids, mainly due to the lack of suitable experimental tools. In this thesis examples of studies of lithium battery electrodes and liquid systems using soft x-ray emission spectroscopy will be presented. Monochromatized synchrotron radiation has been used to accomplish selective excitation, in terms of energy and polarization. The electronic structure of graphite electrodes has been studied, before and after lithium intercalation. Changes in the electronic structure upon lithiation due to transfer of electrons into the graphite 1/-bands have been observed. Transfer of electrons in to the 3d states of transition metal oxides upon lithiation have been studied, through low energy excitations as dd- and charge transfer-exciations. A SEI was detected on cycled graphite electrodes. By the use of selective excitation di(R)erent carbon sites were probed in the SEI. The local electronic structure of water, methanol and mixtures of the two have been examined using a special liquid cell, to separate the liquid from the vacuum in the experimental chamber. Results from the study of liquid water showed a strong influence on the 3a1 molecular orbital and orbital mixing between water molecules upon hydrogen bonding. Apart from the four-hydrogen-bonding structure in water, a structure where one hydrogen bond is broken could be separated and identified. The soft x-ray emission study of methanol showed the existence of ring and chain formations in the liquid phase and the dominating structures are formed of 6 and 8 molecules. Upon mixing of the two liquids, a segregation at the molecular level was found and the formation of new structures, which could explain the unexpected low increase of the entropy.

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