Real-time 3D imaging of microstructure growth in battery cells using indirect MRI

Andrew J. Ilott, Mohaddese Mohammadi, Hee Jung Chang, Clare P. Grey, Alexej Jerschow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lithium metal is a promising anode material for Li-ion batteries due to its high theoretical specific capacity and low potential. The growth of dendrites is a major barrier to the development of high capacity, rechargeable Li batteries with lithium metal anodes, and hence, significant efforts have been undertaken to develop new electrolytes and separator materials that can prevent this process or promote smooth deposits at the anode. Central to these goals, and to the task of understanding the conditions that initiate and propagate dendrite growth, is the development of analytical and nondestructive techniques that can be applied in situ to functioning batteries. MRI has recently been demonstrated to provide noninvasive imaging methodology that can detect and localize microstructure buildup. However, until now, monitoring dendrite growth by MRI has been limited to observing the relatively insensitive metal nucleus directly, thus restricting the temporal and spatial resolution and requiring special hardware and acquisition modes. Here, we present an alternative approach to detect a broad class of metallic dendrite growth via the dendrites' indirect effects on the surrounding electrolyte, allowing for the application of fast 3D1 H MRI experiments with high resolution. We use these experiments to reconstruct 3D images of growing Li dendrites from MRI, revealing details about the growth rate and fractal behavior. Radiofrequency and static magnetic field calculations are used alongside the images to quantify the amount of the growing structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10779-10784
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number39
StatePublished - Sep 27 2016


  • Dendrite growth
  • In situ mri
  • Li-ion batteries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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