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Research Highlight | Center for Nanoscale Materials

Alumina coating protects tin anode particles during cycing

In a Nanotechnology paper, scientists applied operando focused-ion beam scanning electron microscopy to determine the morphological changes in micro-sized alumina-coated tin particles during cycling.

Scientific Achievement

Anodes of tin and other Group IV elements have much higher theoretical capacity than commercial graphite anodes but suffer from rapid capacity fade. In an operando study, the morphology of tin particles coated with alumina maintained their integrity while being cycled, compared with uncoated particles.

Significance and Impact

With optimization of the coating condition and electrode morphology, most of the surface area of next-generation anodes with alumina-coated Sn particles can remain protected during cycling.

Research Details

  • Operando scanning electron microscopy was employed to study the microstructural evolution during cycling of single Sn particles coated with alumina by atomic layer deposition to different thicknesses.


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Work was performed in part at the Center for Nanoscale Materials, a DOE Office of Science user facility. 

About Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials
The Center for Nanoscale Materials is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers, premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale supported by the DOE Office of Science. Together the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE’s Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge, Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. For more information about the DOE NSRCs, please visit https://​sci​ence​.osti​.gov/​U​s​e​r​-​F​a​c​i​l​i​t​i​e​s​/​U​s​e​r​-​F​a​c​i​l​i​t​i​e​s​-​a​t​-​a​-​G​lance.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.