Atomic Layer Deposition for Improved Electrochemical Stability for Lithium Ion Batteries


The dwindling supply of fossil fuels and the harmful green house gases which they produce have driven research towards developing a reliable and safe solution. Alternative forms of transportation, such as hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and all electric vehicles in turn have recently received vast consumer attention. Lithium ion batteries (LIBs) are seen as the most promising option in HEVs and PHEVs. However, while prevalent in watches, computers and phones, significant improvements in both energy density and rate capability need to be achieved before LIBs are suitable for vehicular applications. Decades of research has yielded a range of anode and cathode materials that exhibit higher capacity and better rate capability than the traditional graphite and LiCoO2 found in commercial batteries. Unfortunately due to material pulverization and electrode/electrolyte interfacial reactions high performance materials are often plagued with poor capacity retention and material degradation. Surprisingly, many of the issues accompanying high performance materials can be suppressed by the application of as little as 8 angstroms of Al2O3 on the surface. Ultrathin, conformal, ceramic passivating layers are grown using a thin _lm technique called Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD). Self-limiting and easily tailored, ALD is a superior coating method compared to the more common wet-chemical methods such as sol-gel. Conformal ALD is applied to commercially common materials (graphite, LiCoO2), as well as high energy density alternatives (MoO3, Li(Ni1/3 Mn1/3 Co1/3)O2). It will be shown that the ALD coating protects high surface area state-of-the-art nanoparticles from decomposition and protects electrode surfaces from HF attack and dissolution even up to 5.0 V. In addition to extending overall electrochemical cycling stability, ALD will be shown to minimize hazards and risks, such as thermal runaway, by preventing unwanted side reactions with the organic liquid electrolyte. ALD is a simple, non-toxic and effective method for the implementation of LIBs in high power applications

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