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  5. Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Battery Solution:Electron microscopes for R&D

From the observation of bulk samples to the processing and observation of thin film samples, we have realized an analysis flow with atmosphere shut-off.

We, at Hitachi High-Tech, have realized an original "air protection system" for microstructure analysis of highly active lithium ion battery materials that easily react with the atmosphere. Sample processing by ion milling and SEM observations can be carried out with the bulk sample mounted on a special holder and shut off from the atmosphere. With this holder, you can process the sample into a thin film state by FIB-SEM while keeping the atmosphere shut off. In addition, STEM observations and analysis can be carried out by replacing with the air protection holder for mounting thin film samples. This system enables observation and analysis over a wide magnification range without bringing the sample into contact with the atmosphere.

observation of bulk samples to the processing and observation

Ultrahigh-Resolution Scanning Electron Microscope



Powerful tool for microstructural observation and composition analysis of materials

This ultrahigh-resolution scanning electron microscope is indispensable for research and development of carbon materials and polymer materials used for lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. The high-brightness cold FE electron gun and detection signal control function, provide high contrast images with high resolution.
The SU8600 is equipped with an optical system automatic adjustment function and an optional function to support automation of data acquisition, which enables automatic acquisition of large volumes of data.

Automated sequential imaging and automated pore size measurement of separator

The automated sequential imaging of a separator was performed using the EM Flow Creator software which automatically executes the acquisition of the SEM image. 345 clear SEM images in total were able to be acquired including 5 images each in 3 hours and 36 minutes, while changing visual fields between 5,000(a), 30,000(b) and 80,000(c) magnifications. The distribution of the fibrous fields of a separator has been able to be confirmed at a magnification of 5,000, the fibrous structure and image of the alternately aligned pores of a separator at 30,000, and the microstructure on the surface of a separator at 80,000.


Ultrahigh-Resolution Schottky Scanning Electron Microscope



Powerful tool for microstructural observation and composition analysis of materials

This ultrahigh-resolution scanning electron microscope is indispensable for research and development of carbon materials and polymer materials used for lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. The standardly equipped Schottky FE electron gun responds to an extensive range of analytical methods from the observation of ultra-low accelerating voltages to high-speed analysis which requires a high irradiation current.
The SU8700 is equipped with an optical system automatic adjustment function and an optional function to support automation of data acquisition, which enables automatic acquisition of large volumes of data.

Observation of lithium-ion battery positive electrode material using an ultra-low accelerating SEM

Below are SEM images of LIB positive electrode material observed at an irradiation voltage of 10 V. In (a), the active material, conductive assistant, and the binder can be identified clearly by the shape and contrast. In (b) which is an observation of the magnified area enclosed in red in (a), the condition where the conductive assistant and active material are bonded via a binder, and the residual substance of the binder thinly adhered to the surface of the active material can be confirmed in detail. In the SU8700 which uses an electrostatic/electromagnetic field superposed objective lens, the outermost surface can also be observed easily by such ultra-low acceleration.


Ion milling system

ArBlade 5000

Regulus Series

For milling, which is indispensable for sample preparation for lithium-ion battery analysis.

ArBlade 5000 is Hitachi High-Tech's most advanced model equipped with a hybrid ion milling function that supports cross-sectional milling and flat milling. This model is equipped with various functions for sample preparation required for evaluation of cathode and anode materials of lithium-ion batteries. The air protection cross-sectional milling holder was developed for lithium-ion battery materials whose shape changes significantly when they react with oxygen and moisture in the atmosphere. SEM observation can be carried out after ion milling without sample exposed to air. A cooling temperature control unit (optional) is provided for reducing damages by ion beam irradiation.

Observation example of cross-section milling process of anode active material for lithium-ion rechargeable batteries

SEM image (a) of an anode active material for lithium-ion batteries processed with the air protection cross-section milling function, and SEM image (b) after a sample processed to confirm the effectiveness of the air protection was exposed to atmosphere for about 15 minutes. Although the structure of the graphite particles can be confirmed in (a), (b) is covered with resultants generated by contacting the moisture and oxygen in the air. Accordingly, the effectiveness of the air protection milling holder can be confirmed.

Correlation analysis using SEM and AFM


Enabling SEM and AFM correlation microscopy required for lithium-ion battery material observation.

Hitachi High-Tech's unique technology "SÆMic." enables correlation analysis using SEM and AFM. At the same observation point, it is possible to simultaneously analyze and evaluate the shape, composition, and elemental analysis, etc. by SEM (scanning electron microscope), 3D shape measurement by AFM (atomic force microscope), mechanical information, and electromagnetic property information.

Regulus Series

〈Surface analysis〉 Atomic force microscopes (AFM)


Regulus Series

Simultaneous measurement of the three-dimensional shape and electrical characteristics of the sample surface.

AFM5500M is an atomic force microscope that can scan a sample surface with a small probe and observe three-dimensional shapes with high resolution. In addition to its shape, it is possible to map differences in mechanical properties such as viscoelasticity and absorptivity of the sample, and electromagnetic properties such as surface potential and conductivity.

[SEM-AFM coordinates linkage measurement example]
Correlated SSRM*1/SEM-EDX analysis of ion milling cross-section of lithium-ion battery cathode under different pressing conditions
*1 SSRM: Scanning spread resistance microscopy

One of the issues in improving the performance of LIB is to reduce the internal resistance. This application data sheet explains the results of SSRM/SEM-EDX imaging of the same portion of an ion-milling cross-section of two types of LIB cathodes under different pressing conditions.

Unpressed sample
Fluorine (F) penetrates into the interface between the cathode layer containing the active material (Lithium Cobalt Oxide: LCO) and the Al collector, as can be seen from the EDX image. This is derived from the PVdF only contained in the binder. The areas indicated in red in the SSRM image with the highest resistance are considered to be resin impregnated for structural reinforcement and are presumed to have many voids.
Pressed sample
The penetration of PVdF into the electrode/collector interface area is much less in the EDS image, and the SSRM image also shows that this interface area has good adhesion. From these facts, it is considered that the pressed product has less voids and better contact of the active material.

In this sample, the AC impedance method also indicates that the internal resistance of the pressed sample is lower, 1) and it can be considered that it also responds to the results of the local SSRM/SEM-EDX observation and analysis.
1) H. Nara et al., Journal of power sources, 409 (2019) 139-147.

Regulus Series

Focused ion and electron beam system

Ethos NX5000

Regulus Series

Dual capability of high-resolution observation at low accelerating voltage and real-time FIB process observation

The Ethos NX5000 is a high-performance FIB-SEM composite system equipped with a world-class high-intensity cold-cathode field emission electron gun and a newly developed magnetic/electrostatic compound objective lens. The system incorporates in a single specimen chamber an FIB column for specimen processing and an SEM column for high-magnification observation to enable high-resolution analysis of fine structure and composition at specific locations on a specimen surface and inside the specimen.

Real-time 3D analytical FIB-SEM


Regulus Series

A novel approach FIB-SEM for ideal 3D imaging and analysis

NX9000 has unique orthogonal layout of SEM and FIB column for ideal 3D imaging and analysis. Due to this layout, it enables repeating sample milling and capturing images precisely. It delivers 3D fine structure of specimen in addition to 3D distribution of particles of electrode.

FIB microsampling, picking up thin film from selected region

Typical extracted sample size is 10 μm (horizontal) × 3 μm (thickness) × 10 μm (height). All the process is carried out inside high vacuum specimen chamber with monitoring both SEM and FIB.

Regulus Series

Air protection holder for thin film with sliding protection cylinder

Air protection holder equips cylinder which slides to the end of holder tip in order to isolate specimen from outside. It maintains specimen under inert gas atmosphere or vacuum. In addition, LN2 cooled holder is also available. This reduces thermal damage during sample preparation.

Regulus Series

Field emission transmission electron microscope


Regulus Series

Capability for both high spatial resolution image and material analysis, a 200kV aberration-corrected FE-TEM/STEM/SEM.

HF5000 is embodiment of Hitachi's art of skill through the development of TEM. STEM spatial resolution of 0.078 nm, high-angle sample tilt, and large solid angle EDS (energy dispersive X-ray analyzer) are realized in a single pole piece. Hitachi High-Tech offers sub-Å-level spatial resolution and high analytical capability with variety of observations and analysis technique for a wide range of users, including those in the field of development and manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries.

Deterioration process analysis of sulfide-based solid-state battery under atmospheric air

Thin film processing was applied to all the fabricated solid-state battery samples in a FIB-SEM, and the deterioration process under atmosphere was analyzed using the air protection and in-situ observation system. (In-situ observation)

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