Purdue University Graduate School
Dissertation (REVISED 08-04-2023).pdf (9.91 MB)


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posted on 2023-08-04, 20:11 authored by Nikhil SharmaNikhil Sharma

Energy storage devices have become an integral part of the digital infrastructure of the 21st century. Li-ion batteries are a widely used chemical form of energy storage devices comprising components with varied chemical, mechanical and electrochemical properties. Over long-term usage, the anode and cathode experience spatially heterogeneous Li reaction, mechanical degradation, and reversible capacity loss. The small particle size and environmental sensitivity of materials used in Li-ion battery materials make investigating electrodes' electrochemical and mechanical properties an arduous task. Nevertheless, understanding the effect of electrochemical fatigue load (during the battery's charging and discharging process) on composite electrodes' mechanical stability is imperative to design and manufacture long-lasting energy storage devices.

Due to the low-symmetry lattice, Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) cathode materials exhibit direction-dependent (anisotropic) mechanical properties. In this Dissertation, we first measure the anisotropic elastic stiffness of NMC cathode material using nano-indentation. We also determine the effect of Ni stoichiometry on the indentation modulus, hardness, and fracture toughness of NMC materials. The complete information on the mechanical properties of cathode materials will enable accurate computational results and the design of robust cathodes.

Further, using operando optical experiments, we report that NMC porous composite cathode experiences asynchronous reactions only during the 1st charging process. Non-uniform carbon binder network coverage across the cathode and Li concentration-dependent material properties of NMC results in the initial asynchronous phenomenon. The information on the degree of electrochemical conditioning of Li-ion battery cathode obtained from optical microscopy can test the consistency of product quality in the industrial manufacturing process. We also investigate the effects of non-uniform reactions on active material’s local morphology change and study the evolution of particle network over long-term cycling. Reported data from experiments depicts that in the early cycles, individual particles’ characteristics significantly influence the degree of damage across the cathode.

However, the interaction with neighboring particles becomes more influential in later cycles. Computational modeling uses a multiphysics-based theoretical framework to explain the interplay between electrochemical activity and mechanical damage. The methodology, theoretical framework, and experimental procedure detailed here will enable the design of efficient composite electrodes for long-lasting batteries.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Mechanical Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Kejie Zhao

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Gregory M. Shaver

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Haiyan Wang

Additional Committee Member 4

Dr. Marcial Gonzalez