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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Three-Dimensional Visualization of Conductive Domains in Battery Electrodes with Contrast-Enhancing Nanoparticles


Replacing conductive carbon black with commercial carbon-coated iron nanoparticles yields an effective contrast-enhancing agent to differentiate between active material, conductive additive, and binder in lithium-ion battery electrodes. Nano-XCT resolved the carbon-binder domain with 126 nm voxel resolution, showing partial coatings around the active material particles and interparticle bridges. In a complementary analysis, SEM/EDS determined individual distributions of conductive additives and binder. Surprisingly, the contrast-enhancing agents showed that the effect of preparation parameters on the heterogeneity of conductive additives was weaker than on the binder. Incorporation of such contrast-enhancing additives can improve understanding of processing-structure-function relationships in a multitude of devices for energy conversion and storage.

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