I bet you knew MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is used to see what’s inside your brain, didn’t you? Well, its applicability is no longer limited to the human body, because MRI can now be used to diagnose batteries so scientists can see their defects without opening their carcase.
A team of scientists from Cambridge, SBY and NYU invented a technique that has been thought of many times in the past, but nobody succeeded to apply it, just because the electromagnetic fields used in MRI scanning don’t cross conductors. Now, the team of scientists used this property to see the build-up of lithium metal deposits on the electrodes after charging a lithium ion battery, for example.
This discovery is an immense help to those who actually develop batteries, because such deposits can break off the electrode and cause a lot of troubles like overheating, battery failure or explosion.
“New electrode and electrolyte materials are constantly being developed, and this non-invasive MRI technology could provide insights into the microscopic processes inside batteries, which hold the key to eventually making batteries lighter, safer, and more versatile,” said Alexej Jerschow, a professor in the Department of Chemistry at New York University who heads a multi-disciplinary MRI research laboratory.
“Both electrolyte and electrode surfaces can be visualized with this technique, thus providing a comprehensive picture of the batteries’ performance-limiting processes,” he added.
Diagnosing failing batteries without opening them is crucial to the development of better solution for the ultimate energy storage needed for electric cars.