ZEISS #measuringhero Award

Winner of the Category: Most Exotic Particle Image

The surface of an anode from a lithium-ion battery can be seen in the particle image taken by Andreas Kopp from the University of Applied Sciences, Institute for Materials Research in Aalen. "Since the battery cells have to be opened to be examined, side reactions of the electrolyte can occur. This can precipitate fluorides. The fluorides crystallize in an ion lattice in a cubic crystal system... or form a Borg cube," he says about his image, which was taken with the ZEISS Crossbeam 550. This extraordinary image particularly stuck in our jury's mind, enabling Andreas to win the votes.

Andreas Kopp

  • Company: Materials Research Institute, Aalen University
  • Industry: Academic
  • Country: Germany
  • My passion for quality assurance: Pushing known limits to get a deeper insight
  • Favorite ZEISS product: ZEISS Crossbeam 550
  • Why ZEISS: High resolution and correlative workflows between different technologies are a big help in scientific research. The quality of the images of ZEISS microscopes is unique.
  • Your message to the global #measuringhero community out there: Stay curious and get vaccinated - there is much more to see!

Why is it important to know the exact microstructure of a battery cell?

The function and the lifetime of a battery is mainly influenced by its microstructure. To produce high quality batteries, you have to know the microstructure and how it is influenced by different production steps. Additionally, the tough requirements, for example automobile batteries, require a deeper understanding of all aspects of battery production and battery aging. That includes the materials as well as the different production processes and their influence on the cell quality.
There is still a lot of research necessary to determine the effect of the defect. Typical microstructural defects you can find in a battery are pores, cracks, foreign particles and layer thickness deviations. In addition, the necessary tolerance limits for such defects are not known today but are very important to use natural resources efficiently and to reduce production costs.

What role does ZEISS play in your daily work at the Material Research Institute at Aalen University?

We are using many ZEISS devices from CT, light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. High quality, sometimes correlated images and data are essential for the work in our institute. Our aim is to gain further information about the materials by analyzing the microstructure in the images. Therefore, we use innovative machine learning algorithms. You cannot get high quality results with low quality data. Therefore, our investigations always start with the question how can we get high quality data. ZEISS plays a major part for us to get these high quality data.

For what purposes is the ZEISS Crossbeam 550 used in the institute?

The ZEISS Crossbeam 550 with the Focused Ion Beam can cut the sample and produces very fine high quality surfaces. These surfaces are investigated with further techniques like EDX, EBSD or SIMS. Depending on the sample and material, the aim of the investigation is different. Possible investigations are the chemical composition and element distribution at grain boundaries in magnetic materials or in samples produced by additive manufacturing. In batteries, we are looking for microstructure deviations and the chemical composition of foreign particles to identify their origin. On the other hand, we look at functional particle coatings like Si on graphite particles or we look at deposition layers that occur during battery ageing to help to improve the battery lifetime.