AFM for Energy Storage / Battery Research

With its ability to locally probe electrochemical processes at the nanoscale, AFM is well-suited as a characterization tool for energy storage research. A variety of AFM techniques are being widely used to extend the energy density and lifetime of next-generation materials used in storage devices ranging from lithium ion batteries and supercapacitors to fuel cells. While it is perhaps an obvious choice for investigating the effect of nanostructure on device performance and reliability, AFM is also being used to study local ionic transport and reactivity.


  • Electrochemical Strain Microscopy (ESM) enables studies of ionic transport, intercalation kinetics, and reactivity  
  • In-situ studies of oxidation-reduction reactions with the Electrochemical Cell (available for the Cypher ES and MFP Family of AFMs)
  • High force sensitivity allowing imaging of the electric double-layer at the electrode-electrolyte interface
  • Characterization of high resolution nanostructure, allowing for the optimization of device performance.
  • Turnkey glovebox solutions available

Common applications

  • Lithium ion batteries
  • Fuel cells
  • Supercapacitors
  • Ionic liquid double layers
  • Electrode and separator materials
  • Electrode nanostructure
  • Electrochemistry
  • Morphological effects of charge-discharge cycling

Learn More


Cypher Electrochemistry Cell Data Sheet
The Electrochemistry Cell for the Asylum Research Cypher ES AFM is the premier solution for in situ AFM characterization of electrochemical processes. Its simple modular design provides great versatility and compatibility with a wide range of materials. Best of all, it is based on the Cypher ES AFM—the world's highest resolution, fast scanning AFM with superior environmental control and ease of use for maximum productivity. 
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Toward Better Charge Storage: AFM Determines Key EDL Properties in Future Ionic Liquid Electrolytes
For improving device performance, new materials for both the electrolyte and the electrodes are of interest. For the electrolyte, ionic liquids (pure salts with melting points below 100ºC ) have received much attention as candidates for electrochemical storage. This is because ionic liquids offer many desirable properties, including large electrochemical windows, high thermal stability, high conductivities and low vapor pressure.

Asylum Research AFM is used to study ionic liquids in situ under realistic conditions and marks the first time that molecular level structures have been determined within a viscous liquid using AM-AFM.

ESM of Li-ion Conductive Materials for Energy Generation and Storage

Electrochemical strain microscopy (ESM) is a novel scanning probe microscopy (SPM) technique for the Cypher™ and MFP-3D™ Atomic Force Microscopes (AFMs) that is capable of probing electrochemical reactivity and ionic flows in solids with unprecedented resolution. ESM’s capabilities are invaluable for investigating and improving performance for a broad range of energy technologies, including batteries and fuel cells for electric vehicles and grid storage. This note describes applications of ESM for Li-ion electrolytes and cathode and anode materials.

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Turnkey Glovebox Solutions for Asylum Research AFMs

Isolated environments are now essential for many research applications. Asylum Research has developed glovebox solutions for its Cypher™ and MFP-3D™ Atomic Force Microscopes. This provides a controlled environment while enabling maximum performance of the AFM. The glovebox is ideal for AFM applications including electrochemistry, batteries, photovoltaics, organic semiconductors, OLEDs, etc.

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Measuring Nanomechanical Properties

	AM-FM Viscoelastic Mapping Mode

AM-FM Viscoelastic Mapping Mode

Quantitatively maps storage modulus and loss tangent over a wide modulus range (~50 kPa - 300 GPa).

	Contact Resonance Viscoelastic Mapping Mode

Contact Resonance Viscoelastic Mapping Mode

Quantitatively maps storage modulus and loss tangent over a wide modulus range (1 GPa - 300 GPa).

	NanomechPro Toolkit

NanomechPro Toolkit

Describes the complete set of complementary tools for investigating nanomechanical properties.

Probing Electrical and Functional Behavior

	Overview of Electrical Techniques

Overview of Electrical Techniques

Overview of Asylum's full range of electrical characterization techniques.

	Conductive AFM (CAFM)

Conductive AFM (CAFM)

Detailed discussion of conductive AFM (CAFM) using Asylum’s exclusive ORCA modules.

	Piezoresponse Force Microscopy (PFM)

Piezoresponse Force Microscopy (PFM)

Detailed discussion of piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM) techniques, many exclusive to Asylum AFMs.

	Scanning Microwave Impedance Microscopy (sMIM)

Scanning Microwave Impedance Microscopy (sMIM)

Scanning Microwave Impedance Microscopy (sMIM) measures conductivity and permittivity at high resolution.

Related Webinars

	“Introduction and Innovations in High Speed Quantitative Nanomechanical Imaging”

“Introduction and Innovations in High Speed Quantitative Nanomechanical Imaging”

Capabilities and challenges of AFM techniques for measuring nanomechanical properties.

	"Contact Resonance Tools for AFM Nanomechanics"

"Contact Resonance Tools for AFM Nanomechanics"

Contact Resonance Viscoelastic Mapping Mode technology and applications.

	"Piezoresponse Force Microscopy: From Theory to Advanced Applications”

"Piezoresponse Force Microscopy: From Theory to Advanced Applications”

Two part series includes “Introduction to PFM” and “Advanced PFM Techniques”. 

Selected Publications

T. M. Arruda, M. Heon, V. Presser, P. C. Hillesheim, S. Dai, Y. Gogotsi, S. V. Kalinin, and N. Balke, "In situ tracking of the nanoscale expansion of porous carbon electrodes," Energy Environ. Sci. 6, 225-231 (2013). doi:10.1039/c2ee23707e

N. Balke, E. A. Eliseev, S. Jesse, S. Kalnaus, C. Daniel, N. J. Dudney, A. N. Morozovska, and S. V. Kalinin, "Three-dimensional vector electrochemical strain microscopy," J. Appl. Phys. 112, 052020 (2012). doi:10.1063/1.4746085

J. M. Black, D. Walters, A. Labuda, G. Feng, P. C. Hillesheim, S. Dai, P. T. Cummings, S. V. Kalinin, R. Proksch, and N. Balke, "Bias-Dependent Molecular-Level Structure of Electrical Double Layer in Ionic Liquid on Graphite," Nano Lett. 13, 5954-5960 (2013). doi:10.1021/nl4031083

A. Elbourne, S. McDonald, K. Voïchovsky, F. Endres, G. G. Warr, and R. Atkin, "Nanostructure of the Ionic Liquid-Graphite Stern Layer," ACS Nano 9, 7608-7620 (2015). doi:10.1021/acsnano.5b02921

H. Gao, F. Xiao, C. B. Ching, and H. Duan, "Flexible All-Solid-State Asymmetric Supercapacitors Based on Free-Standing Carbon Nanotube/Graphene and Mn3O4 Nanoparticle/Graphene Paper Electrodes," ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 4, 7020-7026 (2012). doi:10.1021/am302280b

S. Guo, S. Jesse, S. Kalnaus, N. Balke, C. Daniel, and S. V. Kalinin, "Direct Mapping of Ion Diffusion Times on LiCoO2 Surfaces with Nanometer Resolution," J. Electrochem. Soc. 158, A982 (2011). doi:10.1149/1.3604759

S. Kalinin, N. Balke, S. Jesse, A. Tselev, A. Kumar, T. M. Arruda, S. Guo, and R. Proksch, "Li-ion dynamics and reactivity on the nanoscale," Mater. Today 14, 548-558 (2011). doi:10.1016/s1369-7021(11)70280-2

A. Kumar, F. Ciucci, A. N. Morozovska, S. V. Kalinin, and S. Jesse, "Measuring oxygen reduction/evolution reactions on the nanoscale," Nat. Chem. 3, 707-713 (2011). doi:10.1038/nchem.1112

A. Kumar, D. Leonard, S. Jesse, F. Ciucci, E. A. Eliseev, A. N. Morozovska, M. D. Biegalski, H. M. Christen, A. Tselev, E. Mutoro, E. J. Crumlin, D. Morgan, Y. Shao-Horn, A. Borisevich, and S. V. Kalinin, "Spatially Resolved Mapping of Oxygen Reduction/Evolution Reaction on Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell Cathodes with Sub-10 nm Resolution," ACS Nano 7, 3808-3814 (2013). doi:10.1021/nn303239e

B. S. Lalia, Y. A. Samad, and R. Hashaikeh, "Nanocrystalline-cellulose-reinforced poly(vinylidenefluoride- co -hexafluoropropylene) nanocomposite films as a separator for lithium ion batteries," J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 126, E442-E448 (2012). doi:10.1002/app.36783

D. N. Leonard, A. Kumar, S. Jesse, M. D. Biegalski, H. M. Christen, E. Mutoro, E. J. Crumlin, Y. Shao-Horn, S. V. Kalinin, and A. Y. Borisevich, "Nanoscale Probing of Voltage Activated Oxygen Reduction/Evolution Reactions in Nanopatterned (LaxSr1-x)CoO3-δ Cathodes," Adv. Energy Mater. 3, 788-797 (2013). doi:10.1002/aenm.201200681

S. S. Nonnenmann, and D. A. Bonnell, "Miniature environmental chamber enabling in situ scanning probe microscopy within reactive environments," Rev. Sci. Instrum. 84, 073707 (2013). doi:10.1063/1.4813317

I. Sirés, C. Low, C. P. de León, and F. Walsh, "The characterisation of PbO2-coated electrodes prepared from aqueous methanesulfonic acid under controlled deposition conditions," Electrochim. Acta 55, 2163-2172 (2010). doi:10.1016/j.electacta.2009.11.051

B. Wang, J. Park, C. Wang, H. Ahn, and G. Wang, "Mn3O4 nanoparticles embedded into graphene nanosheets: Preparation, characterization, and electrochemical properties for supercapacitors," Electrochim. Acta 55, 6812-6817 (2010). doi:10.1016/j.electacta.2010.05.086

B. Wang, Y. Wang, J. Park, H. Ahn, and G. Wang, "In situ synthesis of Co3O4/graphene nanocomposite material for lithium-ion batteries and supercapacitors with high capacity and supercapacitance," J. Alloys Compd. 509, 7778-7783 (2011). doi:10.1016/j.jallcom.2011.04.152

W. Yan, J. Y. Kim, W. Xing, K. C. Donavan, T. Ayvazian, and R. M. Penner, "Lithographically Patterned Gold/Manganese Dioxide Core/Shell Nanowires for High Capacity, High Rate, and High Cyclability Hybrid Electrical Energy Storage," Chem. Mater. 24, 2382-2390 (2012). doi:10.1021/cm3011474

D. M. Yu, S. T. Zhang, D. W. Liu, X. Y. Zhou, S. H. Xie, Q. F. Zhang, Y. Y. Liu, and G. Z. Cao, "Effect of manganese doping on Li-ion intercalation properties of V2O5 films," J. Mater. Chem. 20, 10841 (2010). doi:10.1039/c0jm01252a

J. Zhu, J. Feng, L. Lu, and K. Zeng, "In situ study of topography, phase and volume changes of titanium dioxide anode in all-solid-state thin film lithium-ion battery by biased scanning probe microscopy," J. Power Sources 197, 224-230 (2012). doi:10.1016/j.jpowsour.2011.08.115

J. Zhu, L. Lu, and K. Zeng, "Nanoscale Mapping of Lithium-Ion Diffusion in a Cathode within an All-Solid-State Lithium-Ion Battery by Advanced Scanning Probe Microscopy Techniques," ACS Nano 7, 1666-1675 (2013). doi:10.1021/nn305648j