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Posted: Mar 15, 2011
Asylum Research Introduces Electrochemical Strain Microscopy for Energy Storage Research
(Nanowerk News) Asylum Research, the technology leader in Scanning Probe and Atomic Force
Microscopy (SPM/AFM), has announced the new Electrochemical Strain Microscopy (ESM) imaging technique for
its Cypher™ and MFP-3D™ AFMs. Developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Asylum Research,
ESM is an innovative scanning probe microscopy (SPM) technique capable of probing electrochemical reactivity and
ionic flows in solids on the sub-ten-nanometer level. ESM is the first technique that measures ionic currents directly,
providing a new tool for mapping electrochemical phenomena on the nanoscale. The capability to probe
electrochemical processes and ionic transport in solids is invaluable for a broad range of applications for energy
generation and storage ranging from batteries to fuel cells. ESM has the potential to aid in these advances with two
major improvements over other conventional technologies: (a) the resolution to probe nanometer-scale volumes and
(b) the inherent ability to decouple ionic from electronic currents with (c) imaging capability extended to a broad
range of spectroscopy techniques reminiscent of conventional electrochemical tools. Nina Balke of ORNL will be
presenting recent results at the International Workshop on Scanning Probe Microscopy for Energy Applications in Mainz, Germany, June 8-10 2011.
Commented Roger Proksch, President of Asylum Research, "Progress in energy storage and conversion will be
greatly facilitated by the ability to study batteries and fuel cells at the level of several nanometers. ESM provides
functional imaging of electrochemical phenomena in volumes millions to a billion times smaller than conventional
current-based electrochemical techniques. This new technique opens the pathway to understanding energy
technology and ionic devices on the level of individual grains and defects, thus bridging macroscopic functionalities
and atomistic mechanisms. This in turn will lead to improved energy storage solutions – batteries with extremely
high energy densities and long lifetimes and fuel cells with very high energy densities and efficiencies."
Mapping of Li-ion diffusion. The topographic image (left) of amorphous Si anode in the Si/LiPON/LiCoO2 thin-film battery structure
shows the presence of a number of grain boundaries, as well as extensive surface roughness. The ESM
image (right) is obtained by measuring the electrochemical strain hysteresis loops at each pixel (100x100
pixel image over 1 micron area). The area hysteresis loop is a measure of Li-ion mobility, and is plotted as
2D map (dark blue corresponds to closed loops, red to open loops). The enhanced Li-ion mobility along the
sharp grain boundary is clearly seen, as well as localized hot spots on the diffuse grain boundary and within
the grains. The effective resolution of ESM for this material is ~ 10 nm, providing a high-resolution view of
Li-ion dynamics in these materials. (Reprinted from N. Balke, et al., Nano Lett. 10, 3420 (2010).
"Traditionally, scanning probe microscopy techniques allowed measurement of electronic currents and short- and
long-range forces," added Sergei Kalinin, Senior Research Staff Member in the Center for Nanophase Materials
Sciences at ORNL and co-inventor (with Nina Balke and Stephen Jesse) of ESM. "ESM extends this capability to
measure ionic currents, and has already been demonstrated for a variety of Li-ion cathode, anode, and electrolyte
materials, as well as oxygen electrolytes and mixed electronic-ionic conductors. The ubiquitous presence of
concentration-molar volume coupling in electrochemical systems suggests that this technique is in fact universal for
solid state ionic imaging – from batteries and solid state to memristive electronics.
Stephen Jesse added "Perhaps even more importantly, the use of band excitation and DART engines allows
measurements to be performed on rough surfaces of realistic electrochemical materials, making ESM useful for real
materials and devices."
About Asylum Research
Asylum Research is the technology leader in atomic force and scanning probe microscopy (AFM/SPM) for both materials
and bioscience applications. Founded in 1999, we are an employee owned company dedicated to innovative
instrumentation for nanoscience and nanotechnology, with over 250 years combined AFM/SPM experience among our
staff. Our instruments are used for a variety of nanoscience applications in material science, physics, polymers,
chemistry, biomaterials, and bioscience, including single molecule mechanical experiments on DNA, protein unfolding
and polymer elasticity, as well as force measurements for biomaterials, chemical sensing, polymers, colloidal forces,
adhesion, and more. Asylum's product line offers imaging and measurement capabilities for a wide range of samples,
including advanced techniques such as electrical characterization (CAFM, KFM, EFM), high voltage piezoresponse force
microscopy (PFM), thermal analysis, quantitative nanoindenting, and a wide range of environmental accessories and
Asylum's MFP-3D set the standard for AFM technology, with unprecedented precision and flexibility. The MFP-3D is
the first AFM with true independent piezo positioning in all three axes, combined with low noise closed-loop feedback
sensor technology. The MFP-3D offers both top and bottom sample viewing and easy integration with most
commercially-available inverted optical microscopes.
Asylum's new Cypher AFM is the world's first new small sample AFM/SPM in over a decade, and sets the new standard
as the world's highest resolution AFM. Cypher provides low-drift closed loop atomic resolution for the most accurate
images and measurements possible today, >20X faster AC imaging with small cantilevers, Spot-On™ automated laser and
photodetector alignment for easy setup, integrated thermal, acoustic and vibration control, and broad support for all major
AFM/SPM scanning modes and capabilities.
Asylum Research offers the lowest cost of ownership of any AFM company. Ask us about our industry-best 2-year
warranty, our legendary product and applications support, and our exclusive 6-month money-back satisfaction guarantee.
We are dedicated to providing the most technically advanced AFMs for researchers who want to take their experiments to
the next level. Asylum Research also distributes third party cantilevers from Olympus, Nanoworld/Nanosensors, and our
own MFM and iDrive™ tips.
For additional information, contact Terry Mehr, Director of Marketing Communications, or Monteith Heaton, EVP,
Marketing/Business Development, Asylum Research, 6310 Hollister Avenue, Santa Barbara, CA 93117, 805-696-
6466x224/227, Terry@AsylumResearch.com, Monte@AsylumResearch.com, www.AsylumResearch.com.
About Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is the Department of Energy's largest science and energy laboratory. ORNL has a
staff of more than 4,800 and annually hosts approximately 3,000 guest researchers who spend two weeks or longer in
Oak Ridge. As an international leader in a range of scientific areas that support the Department of Energy's mission,
ORNL has six major mission roles: neutron science, energy, high-performance computing, systems biology,
materials science at the nanoscale, and national security. ORNL's leadership role in the nation's energy future
includes hosting the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences - one of the five Department of Energy Nanoscale
Science Research Centers, which serve as user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale supported by
the DOE Office of Science.