Home Facility Spotlight Facility Spotlight | ALBA Synchrotron

Facility Spotlight | ALBA Synchrotron

14th November 2019

Facility Description

ALBA is a synchrotron light facility located in Cerdanyola del Vallès, Barcelona (Spain). Managed by the Consortium for the Construction, Equipping and Exploitation of the Synchrotron Light Source (CELLS), it is funded in equal parts by the Spanish and the Catalonian Administration. ALBA currently has eight operational state-of-the-art beamlines, comprising soft and hard X-rays, which are devoted mainly to biosciences, condensed matter (magnetic and electronic properties, nanoscience) and materials science. Additionally, four beamlines are in construction. This scientific infrastructure provides about 6.000 hours of beam time per year and is available for the academic and the industrial sector, serving more than 2.000 researchers every year.

Aerial picture of ALBA Synchrotron. © CELLS | ALBA Synchrotron


Selected Highlight

Improving the synthesis of alternative cathode materials for the next-generation of lithium-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are very popular in many of the electronic devices we used every day. They are charged and discharged when lithium ions travel back and forth between the anode and cathode inside the battery. The bigger amount of lithium ions the cathode has, the greater capacity of storing energy the battery has.  Most of the current lithium-ion batteries’ cathodes are made of lithium and cobalt, an expensive and poisonous element. Moreover, these systems are limited in their performance, using only about 50% of the total material capacity. So, this research topic has attracted the interest of the scientific community in order to find new ways to develop cobalt-free lithium-rich cathodes.

A group of researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the Research Centre Jülich, the Technical University of Munich (Germany), the Sichuan University (China), the University of Wollongong (Australia) together with scientists from DESY and ALBA Synchrotron facilities have developed a technology for synthesis of lithium-rich layered oxides. Scientists have proposed a scalable method for the synthesis of these alternative cathode materials: a coprecipitation route followed by a microwave heating process. Apart from having a detailed characterisation of the process, the experiment showed that these cobalt-free cathode materials have very high capacity at a high speed, about 10 times faster than conventional batteries.


Researchers at MSPD, one of the ALBA beamlines where the experiment was done. © CELLS | ALBA Synchrotron


Several synchrotron light techniques were used at the ALBA Synchrotron and DESY to comprehensively understand the transformation of precursors during the formation of the lithium-rich cathode materials. Understanding how these cathodes react will enable to engineer future cathode materials for the next-generation lithium ion batteries.


(a) 7Li nuclear magnetic resonance spectra, (b-c) X-ray absorption spectra, (d-f) Microscopy images showing morphological changes, (g) Diagram of the formation of layered compounds during microwave heating. | Reference: DOI: 10.1002/aenm.201803094


On the ALBA synchrotron website you can find more information.