Chemical Sustainability Seminar

12 October 2022, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

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Exploring Tailored Electrolytes to Regulate Battery Performance by Operando TEM

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff | UCL students


Yang Xu


Via Teams
20 Gordon St
United Kingdom

The lithium-ion battery is the dominant architecture for current high-performance rechargeable batteries, and has seen steady improvement in energy density and cost over the past decades. However, achieving further breakthroughs in energy density requires us to consider ‘beyond Li-ion’ candidate battery concepts. One such general concept is the use of metal anodes, where we simply remove the anode intercalation material we currently use and instead cycle the active metal ion to and from its metallic state directly. While this grants excellent theoretical performances, the lack of a stabilising anode host structure leads to formidable degradation problems that prevent their use. Understanding what leads to these performance losses, and designing schemes to prevent them, are of great current interest.

In this seminar I will discuss my research on using operando transmission electron microscopy (TEM)1 to directly observe metal anodes while they are being electrochemically cycled. This allows us to gain some insights into the nanoscale structural changes that occur, and to thus better understand the causes of performance decay. By manipulating the composition of the electrolyte, by changing the solvent or by including additives, we can then attempt to limit such degradation.2,3

About the Speaker

Dr Alex Robertson

at University of Warwick

Alex Robertson is a Royal Society University Research Fellow and an assistant professor at the University of Warwick’s Department of Physics, where he studies functional and energy materials by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), with a particular focus on in-situ and operando techniques. He studied for his PhD and did a post-doc at the University of Oxford with Prof Jamie Warner, where he researched the chemical vapour deposition growth of graphene and used atomic resolution TEM imaging to reveal the structure of its atomic defects. He then worked as a post-doc at the Pacific Northwest National Lab in the USA with Prof Nigel Browning, where he studied nanoparticle dynamics by in-situ TEM. He has conducted research into the atomic defects of 2D materials, nanomaterial electrocatalysts, and battery anode degradation.