Charge photometry revolutionizes how we measure energy storage in operating batteries. This simple, lab-based technique allows researchers to visualize energy storage processes in real time, at sub-micrometer scales, and in realistic sample environments. This approach unlocks new possibilities for battery development and research in the pursuit of next-generation battery materials.
How it works
Developed in the research groups of Prof. Rao and Prof. Dame Grey at the University of Cambridge, charge photometry exploits the principles of optical interference reflection microscopy (1) and interferometric scattering microscopy (2), and applies it to operating batteries. Using a specially-tuned microscope and custom optically-accessible battery cells, they demonstrated that the amount of light scattered and reflected by the electrode material encodes the state of charge of the active particles. (3)
This relationship enables unprecedented insights into the phase transition mechanisms, the build-up of charge heterogeneity, and the performance degradation of individual active particles during realistic electrochemical cycling. (4) Importantly, the relationship between light scattering is agnostic to the underlying battery chemistry, and can be applied to both anode and cathode materials. This makes charge photometry a universal analysis tool for monitoring battery materials as they operate in their native cell environment.
(1) Verschueren, J. Cell Sci. 1985, 75, 279-301
(2) Ortega-Arroyo et al., Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2012, 14, 15625-36
(3) Merryweather et al., Nature 2021, 594, 522–528
(4) Merryweather et al., Nature Materials 2022
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