28 Nov 2008

Putting electrochemistry to use: Design of new lithium-ion battery anodes

Literature Discussion

Submitted by Maggie Geselbracht, Reed College
Categories
Description: 
This learning object focuses on a discussion of a recent paper that highlights the application of electrochemistry in inorganic materials chemistry: “Direct Electrodeposition of Cu2Sb for Lithium-Ion Battery Anodes” by James M. Mosby and Amy L. Prieto, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2008, 130, 10656-10661.  This article describes the current challenges to designing new lithium ion battery anodes and the use of cyclic voltammetry and electrodeposition to prepare the intermetallic anode material, Cu2Sb, in crystalline form directly from aqueous solutions of copper(II) and antimony(III).
Learning Goals: 

A student should be able to explain the chemistry behind how a lithium ion battery works, the limitations of current materials, and gain perspective on some of the materials challenges involved in making a better lithium battery.

A student should be able to interpret the cyclic voltammetry data that is presented, understand the authors' conclusions, and apply their knowledge of the Nernst equation to explain how the reduction potential of species in solution can be shifted by either changing pH or by the addition of complexing agents.

A student should be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of electrodeposition as a materials synthesis technique including the choice of whether to use controlled potential electrolysis or controlled current electrolysis.

A student should be able to describe the additional analytical techniques, X-ray powder diffraction and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, used to characterize the materials discussed in this paper and interpret the value added by these experimental results.


Related activities: 
Implementation Notes: 
I have used this paper as a basis of an oral exam that focused on a current paper from the inorganic literature, drawing questions from the list of discussion questions as needed.  A fellow member of IONiC used this paper as a discussion activity in an Analytical Chemistry and Instrumentation course in the midst of a unit on electrochemistry.  In this case, he divided up the discussion questions between different pairs of students to present during class.
Time Required: 
1 hr
Evaluation
Evaluation Methods: 
The students are assessed through the performance task of answering one or more of the discussion questions included as a separate document.
Evaluation Results: 
I used this paper as the basis for a 25-minute oral exam, so we only covered a few of the discussion questions, particularly as the student had difficulty drawing a connection to the Nernst equation and the pH dependence of redox potentials.
Creative Commons License: 
Creative Commons Licence

Comments

Our intro to analytical course is also "baby" inorganic, lots of aqueous inorganic, acid base, equilibria, e-chem.  I used this learning object in my course as a review/preview of coming attractions.  The students did very well on the assignment.  I divided up the 10 or so questions from the handout into pairs of students, and we spent a whole class period spending about 5 minutes per question with the students at the board.  I think it worked well, and I've been able to refer back to the paper a few times as I introduced more topics (electrodeposition and CV particularly).

Amy Prieto at Colorado State University has a new lithium ion battery startup company based on the further development of the science discussed in this paper.  See the link above in "Related Activities."

The VIPEr community supports respectful and voluntary sharing. Click here for a description of our default Creative Commons license.