In situ x-ray computed tomography of zinc–air primary cells during discharge: correlating discharge rate to anode morphology

Jennifer Hack, Drasti Patel, Josh J Bailey, Francesco Iacoviello, Paul R Shearing, and Dan J L Brett - Jennifer Hack et al 2022 J. Phys. Mater. 5 014001

Given the urgent need to move to low-carbon technologies, batteries are being increasingly used in a range of applications. Lithium-ion batteries are the most widely used chemistry, but to meet the growing demand, there is a need to move beyond lithium towards alternative battery chemistries. Metal–air batteries are a group of such battery alternatives that hold promise, especially for stationary power and flexible electronics applications.

However, barriers to their widespread adoption include the need to improve their cycling lifetime, as well as stability and avoiding degradation mechanisms such as zinc dendrite growth and hydrogen-producing side reactions. X-ray computed tomography (CT) is a widely used technique for the study of batteries.

How Amira-Avizo Software is used

Post-processing of each dataset was carried out using Avizo software (Thermo Fisher Scientific, USA). First, each sample was registered to the ‘fresh’ sample using the ‘Register Images’ module in Avizo, to ensure the orientation of each image was identical, followed by application of a median filter to reduce the noise in each tomogram. A 3D volume rendering of a cell in the ‘discharged’ state, which was discharged at C/90, is shown in figure 1(a) and a portion of the rendering has been removed from view such that the internal features of the cell can be visualised.


Measurement of the zinc volume fraction was carried out using the ‘volume fraction’ module in Avizo. The volume was then converted to a theoretical capacity, using the following equation:

Equation (5)