First Advisor

Raj Solanki

Date of Publication

Summer 7-21-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Electrical and Computer Engineering


Electrical and Computer Engineering




Storage batteries -- Design and construction, Calcium ions, Lithium ions



Physical Description

1 online resource (iii, 169 pages)


Li+ ion batteries have been the mainstay of high energy storage devices that have revolutionized the operating life time of consumer electronic devices for the past two decades. However, there is a steady increase in demand for energy storage devices with the ability to store more energy and deliver them at high power at low cost, without comprising safety and lifetime.

Li-ion batteries have had significant challenges in increasing the amount of stored energy without affecting the overall lifetime and the ability to deliver stored energy. In order to store and deliver more energy, more lithium ions need to be inserted and extracted from a given electrode (cathode or anode). Upon inserting a large number of Li ions, the crystal lattice of the materials undergo severe mechanical distortions, leading to un-desirable structural changes. This results in underutilization of theoretical energy storage capacities of the electrodes and early failure of the batteries owing to instabilities in the electrode materials.

Unlike monovalent Li+ ions, multivalent rechargeable batteries offer a potential solution to the above problems. Multivalent cations, such as Ca2+, are doubly-ionized as opposed to Li+ which is a monovalent cation. The advantages of using Ca2+ ions instead of Li+ ions are multifold. Due to the doubly-ionized nature, only half the number of Ca2+ ions need to be inserted and extracted from a given electrode to store and deliver energy from a high capacity cathode as compared to Li+ ions. This reduces the probability of lattice distortion and un-desirable structural changes, further leading to increased utilization of high theoretical energy storage capacities of the electrodes (cathode and anode). The use of Ca2+ ions also helps in delivering twice the amount of current density as compared to Li+ ions due to its doubly ionized nature.

In this work, a set of eight metal hexacyanoferrate compounds were synthesized using the following metal ions: Ba2+, Mn2+, Zn2+, Co2+, Fe3+, Al3+, Sn4+, Mo5+. The resulting metal hexacyanoferrate compounds were subjected to physical characterization using scanning electron microscope (SEM) and powder x-ray diffraction (XRD), to determine physical properties such as size, morphology, unit cell symmetry and unit cell parameters. This was followed by electrochemical characterization utilizing cyclic voltammetry and galvanic cycling, to determine the specific capacity and kinetics involved in the transport of Ca2+ ions to store charge. Optical characterization of the metal hexacyanoferrates using Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, allowed for the identification of metal-nitrogen stretching frequency, which was used as a measure of the strength of the metal-nitrogen bond to understand the role of the above mentioned metal ions in electron density distribution across the unit cell of the metal hexacyanoferrates.

The specific capacity utilization of the metal hexacyanoferrates, when compared to the electronegativity values (Xi) of the above mentioned metal ions, the σ- parameter, and the metal-nitrogen stretching frequency (v), revealed an empirical trend suggesting that the materials (FeHCF, CaCoHCF and CaZnHCF) that possessed intermediates values for the above mentioned parameters demonstrated high capacity utilization (≥50%). Based on these empirical trends, it is hypothesized that a uniform distribution of electron density around a unit cell, as reflected by intermediate values of the electronegativity (Xi) of the above mentioned metal ions, the σ-parameter and the metal-nitrogen stretching frequency (v), results in minimal electrostatic interactions between the intercalating cation and the host unit cell lattice. This results in relatively easy diffusion of the cations, leading to high specific capacity utilization for metal hexacyanoferrate cathodes. These parameters may be used to select high efficiency cathode materials for multivalent batteries.


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