UCL Electrochemical Innovation Lab


Clone of Forensic and Diagnostic Lab

Based within the EIL, the Forensic and Diagnostic Lab has advanced capabilities to characterise the performance capabilities and degradation of batteries.

The Forensic & Diagnostics Lab @ the EIL houses a suite of devices capable of multi length scale analysis of batteries. The analysis of batteries has become increasingly important as they have been incorporated into more applications. As a result, the EIL have acquired a nationally leading suite of equipment capable of identifying key physical and electrochemical markers in batteries, providing an insight into the current and future performance of the cells. In conjunction with the UCL Centre for Correlative X-ray Microscopy we are capable of tracking the degradation of cells from the first cycle to the last and are developing cheap, compact tools to translate this research into industry friendly devices.

In addition to standalone research the Forensics & Diagnostics Lab supports the wider research programme of the EIL, often requiring the design of bespoke housings and chambers to enable multi-instrument measurements. This work has been regularly translated to experiments conducted at large scale facilities including Diamond Light Source, the ESRF and the Swiss Light Source.

The key ethos of the Forensics & Diagnostics Lab is understanding the what, why and how. By gaining an understanding of these questions we are able to develop mechanisms to improve the design, performance and safety of devices; preventing failures and expanding the range of applications for battery technology.

Acoustic Imaging

Acoustic Imaging

We are the national leaders in acoustic imaging as a diagnostic of electrochemical devices pioneering the technique and producing the first reported spatially resolved analysis of Li-ion batteries. This tool enables us to obtain direct measurements of the condition of the individual electrode layers in cells, determine the state of health in microseconds. 

We house three acoustic measurement devices capable of temporally and spatially resolved measurements of cells up to 45 cm2. 

Detailed studies can also be performed in conjunction with dilatometry to fully understand the behaviour of battery materials.

Thermal Imaging

Thermal Imaging

Since 2013 we have invested over £200,000 in our infrared imaging capabilities to place the Forensic & Diagnostic Lab at the forefront of thermal analysis and diagnostics globally. We have the capabilities to perform sub millimetre resolution infrared imaging on devices at rates in excess of 1000 Hz. Indeed using our multi-camera set-up we can provide a 360° view of devices.

Our expertise in this field has led to the development of advanced techniques including lock-in thermography and eletro-thermal impedance spectroscopy which we have applied to battery and fuel cell systems. We also have significant experience in the design and construction of bespoke housing to image high-rate operation and thermal runaway of Li-ion batteries.

X-Ray Microscopy

X-Ray Imaging

Our access to the UCL Centre for Correlative X-ray Microscopy allows us to combine ‘4-D’ tomography with complimentary techniques to further understand the dynamics of electrochemical systems.
We have the capabilities to perform simultaneous acoustic and infrared imaging, electrochemical measurements and ‘μm resolution’ X-ray imaging providing the complete diagnostic toolkit. Our capabilities to perform high resolution X-ray imaging allows forensic analysis of devices at nm resolution providing the greatest detail available in a UK laboratory.

Our substantial experience at national X-ray and neutron facilities including Diamond Light Source & ISIS, ESRF & ILL and Swiss Light Source also enables us to design bespoke experiments using a range of techniques to investigate any number of phenomena at the highest achievable time and spatial resolutions.


Development of Diagnostics

By combining our diverse capabilities we can maximise the understanding of the systems being examined facilitating the development and implementation of bespoke diagnostic tools.
These tailored techniques allow us to isolate distinct features in devices, providing insights which are independent of device construction. We believe this approach enables the most in-depth analysis of devices, maximising the benefit from our research.


The tools used in the Forensics & Diagnostics Lab include some of the most advanced available to the battery community in the UK including:
•    High-resolution, high-speed infrared imaging cameras (up to 1004 Hz)
•    Spatially and temporally resolved acoustic sensing equipment
•    High precision electrochemical characterisation tools
•    Environmental chambers for elevated temperature testing
•    Nano-scale dilatometry of electrode materials
•    Nail penetration, crush testing & thermal runaway capabilities