For the first time, researchers have been able to provide a glimpse into the inner workings of a lithium-ion battery. Using a neutron beam, Ohio State chemists and engineers were able to track the flow of lithium atoms into and out of an electrode as a battery charged and discharged. The researchers are using a technique called neutron depth profiling (NDP) to non-invasively capture images of the interior of a lithium-ion battery to test new, high-capacity electrode materials, including ones containing tin, silicon, germanium and aluminum. These alternative electrodes could be capable of storing nearly three times as much energy as graphite, the material of choice in current lithium-ion batteries. Marcello Canova, assistant professor, mechanical and aerospace engineering, is the study’s principal investigator.