Monday, November 15, 2021 - 3:00pm


Cryo-EM received the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for its ability to elucidate the nanostructure of biomolecules in their native state, revolutionizing the field of structural biology. By leveraging this powerful technique to study battery materials, we revealed the atomic structure of reactive battery materials and interfaces for the first time (Science 358, 506–510, 2017), demonstrating its potential impact for battery research. Indeed, one of the most important yet unanswered questions in battery research still remains: what are the structures and chemistries present across liquid-solid battery interfaces and how do they evolve with time? To bridge this gap in understanding, we adopt and innovate cryo-EM techniques that can resolve these sensitive liquid-solid interfaces and correlate them with battery performance. Here, we further innovate cryo-EM techniques towards battery research by leveraging a thin film vitrification method to preserve the sensitive battery interfaces in their native liquid electrolyte environments for high resolution imaging and spectroscopy. Our preliminary data reveals a significant swelling ratio between dry and wet states of the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI), a ubiquitous yet poorly understood corrosion film formed on the surface of battery anodes. This surprising discovery highlights the promising potential of cryo-EM to enable new fundamental understanding and insights for materials research.


Prof. Yuzhang Li




ISEB 1010