PhD: Probing Li-ion Battery Degradation at the Nanoscale


Dr Ifan Stephens,

Lithium ion batteries are playing a key role in our transition to a future energy infrastructure, free of fossil fuels. However, at present, their relatively short lifetimes present a barrier to their more widespread uptake. The slow degradation of the batteries occurs via gradual changes to the structure of the electrode and the electrolyte, accompanied by parasitic side reactions.

The aim of the current PhD studentship is to monitor the nanoscale changes occurring to Li ion batteries. It will involve the deposition of model thin films. They will subsequently be characterised using a wide array of experimental techniques; these will include electrochemical methods, secondary ion mass spectrometry, low energy ion scattering spectroscopy, synchrotron-based X-ray absorption spectroscopy and online mass spectrometry. These experiments will build up a coherent picture of the underlying degradation mechanisms that are deleterious to the long-term performance of lithium ion batteries. On the basis of the insight gained, we will develop strategies to mitigate the degradation.

The student will work together with a team of researchers at the Department of Materials at Imperial College, focussed on degradation. The team is part of the the Faraday Institution, a transdisciplinary, UK-wide research centre ( The Institution brings together leading researchers in the field of batteries, both from industry and academia. The ultimate aim of the Institution is to develop new battery technologies for the automotive sector and beyond.

Applicants should submit the electronic application form, submitting a CV and a cover letter. The prospectus, entry requirements and application form (under ‘how to apply’) are available at: Please contact Fiona Thomson ( for further information. Information about the Department can be found at