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SFU researcher Audrey Taylor helps us “see” inside Li-ion batteries

December 15, 2020  By Anthony Capkun

December 15, 2020 – Audrey Taylor—a researcher working under Prof. Byron Gates at Simon Fraser University—has been recognized with the Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation-PhD.

She developed a tool that enables rapid testing of the particles inside Li-ion batteries, thereby giving battery developers the ability to “see” inside them.

Mitacs is a “national innovation organization that fosters growth by solving business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions”.

“Lithium ion batteries represent an emerging field and, therefore, we need new techniques to study them at the atomic level,” said Taylor, who was able to obtain 60 nm-thick cross-sections of particles 20 microns-wide on one sample for viewing under a transmission electron microscope.


Taylor applied the same method used in examining biological specimens to lithium batteries. In place of a knife, she used a diamond blade to cut the ceramic-like make-up of the battery into thin slices.

Her method is now being used by Burnaby, B.C.-based Nano One Materials Corp. to produce cathode powders used in lithium-ion batteries.

“Nano One needed a quick way to inspect the protective coatings it was developing to improve the performance and longevity of lithium-ion batteries,” Taylor said. “Using our methodology, they can quickly obtain high-resolution imaging of their coatings which, in turn, leads to faster research and development turnaround.”

“The more we know about what’s happening inside the batteries, the better we can prevent adverse events and ensure high performance,” she said.

The Mitacs Award for Outstanding Innovation-PhD is presented to a Mitacs intern who has made a “significant achievement in research and development innovation during their Mitacs-funded research”.

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