Collective phase transition dynamics in microarray composite LixFePO4electrodes tracked by in situ electrochemical quartz crystal admittance

A novel approach to tracking intercalation-induced phase transitions in Li-ion battery materials demonstrated herein consists of simultaneous analysis of intercalation charge and the accompanying mechanical (geometric) changes in a microarray electrode composed of LixFePO4intercalation particles probed by the electrochemical quartz-crystal admittance (EQCA) method. A recently elaborated approach to population dynamics of active (phase-transforming) nanoparticles has been used here for modeling current transients applying small potential steps to LixFePO4electrodes. The number fraction of (phase) transformed particles thus calculated was directly compared with the changes in the effective thickness and permeability length of the electrode coating derived by EQCA. Geometric changes of thin active mass originating from different molar volumes of the parent and transformed phase result in nonuniform deformations of intercalation particles. This study confirms the collective behavior of LixFePO4intercalation particles during electrochemically induced phase transition. The use of EQCA as a highly precise and sensitive probe of mass and geometric changes in the electrode layer of intercalation particles paves the way for dynamic in situ studies of nonuniform intercalation particles deformations which can hardly be assessed by other available techniques.