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Metrology Platform Allows Real-Time Battery Electrode Inspection

May 19, 2024 by Mike Falter

Thermo Fisher’s Thermo Scientific LInspector Edge In-line Mass Profilometer analyzes electrode coatings in real time to improve battery performance and safety.

Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc. has released a metrology platform designed to support the growing battery market with a full-width electrode mass-loading measurement capability. The Thermo Scientific LInspector Edge In-line Mass Profilometer will provide OEMs with the precision data required for designing and manufacturing better, safer, and more cost-effective batteries.

The LInspector Edge platform employs next-generation metrology techniques based on in-line mass profilometry, allowing for the measurement of full edge-to-edge coating profiles with new levels of resolution in just milliseconds.

 

LInspector Edge In-line Mass Profilometer.

LInspector Edge In-line Mass Profilometer. Image used courtesy of Thermo Fisher

 

Uniform, defect-free electrode coatings are essential to obtaining the best battery performance possible in energy density and charge times while providing safety and reliability. Demand for higher-performing batteries is growing, particularly in e-mobility markets, where consumers seek longer ranges and shorter charge times for their EVs without compromising quality.

 

Constructing a High-Energy Battery

Many EV manufacturers, including Tesla, commonly use cylindrical lithium-ion cells to construct battery packs. Cylindrical cells use a “jellyroll” design to wrap the positive electrode, negative electrode, and separators within the cylindrical aluminum casing of the battery to maximize the electrode surface area and energy storage density. The wrapped electrodes are typically constructed from aluminum or copper foils. They are coated with active materials (based on battery chemistry), allowing them to store or discharge energy through a repeatable and reversible chemical process.

 

Cylindrical rechargeable battery cell construction.

Cylindrical rechargeable battery cell construction. Image used courtesy of Thermo Fisher

 

Uniform and defect-free electrode coating in cylindrical batteries is vital to performance and reliability. For these systems, undetected electrode coating defects could result in poor performance or even complete battery cell or pack failure.

 

In-line Mass Profilometry

Demand for better-performing, energy-dense, and affordable rechargeable batteries continues to grow with the accelerating adoption of EVs, battery energy storage systems, and similar applications. To meet demand, manufacturers are investing in faster and more capable production capabilities.

According to Thermo Fisher Scientific, the company developed its in-line mass profilometry technique specifically for the battery industry. Within just a few milliseconds, in-line mass profilometry allows manufacturers to simultaneously monitor the entire width of the electrode coating (edge-to-edge mass loading) while detecting and tracking even the smallest defects.

 

In-line mass profilometry of a battery electrode roll.

In-line mass profilometry of a battery electrode roll. Image used courtesy of Thermo Fisher

 

Compared with current coating weight metrology methods, which offer only spot measurements (2-3%) of the electrode surface, in-line mass profilometry provides high-resolution coating images that cover 100% of the electrode coating surface with one thousand times more mass loading data.

The LInspector Edge In-line Mass Profilometer is designed to deliver production coating uniformity data quickly while offering accurate defect traceability across entire electrode rolls.

 

High-resolution mapping of an electrode surface coating

High-resolution mapping of an electrode surface coating. Image used courtesy of Thermo Fisher

 

With real-time defect traceability, manufacturers can quickly implement interventions to mitigate defects such as weight, uniformity, contaminants, scratches, and voids and assess their impact on battery quality, reliability, and performance.

 

The Future of Batteries

In addition to maintaining current production quality, yields, and throughput rates, high-resolution electrode surface measurements are also incredibly valuable to manufacturers in developing new battery processes and technologies.

According to Miguel Faustino, President of Chemical Analysis at Thermo Fisher, better-performing batteries are essential to the broader adoption of EVs and other technology platforms that reduce society’s reliance on carbon-based fuels. The LInspector Edge In-line Mass Profilometer supports these strategic goals and sets a new standard for electrode coating measurement to help advance battery capabilities.