Lithium Battery Research with SIMS at Tohoku University

How researchers at Tohoku University used SIMS (Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry) in lithium battery research, to measure the lithium diffusion coefficient.

More details about this study are available in a PDF report from CAMECA.

Blue Scientific is the official distributor for CAMECA instruments in the UK, Ireland and Finland. For more information or quotes, please get in touch.

CAMECA instruments

What is dynamic SIMS?

 Contact us on +44 (0)1223 422 269 or

Lithium Diffusion Coefficient in Battery Development

In battery and fuel cell development, it’s useful to know the lithium diffusion coefficient in the cathode material during ion transport. Thsi information can then be used to improve battery design, lifetime and optimising charge/discharge performance.

However, establishing the lithium diffusion coefficient can be challenging. Characterisation methods such as NMR and electrochemical techniques are indirect and fail to provide reliable results.

Researchers at Tohoku University used SIMS (Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry) to precisely establish the coefficients, and gain significant insights into lithium ion behaviour.


The team at Tohoku University used the CAMECA IMS 7f universal magnetic sector SIMS. This is the forerunner of the current IMS 7f-Auto:

IMS 7f-Auto


  • Measure challenging light and trace elements eg lithium.
  • Excellent sensitivity, with low detection limits.
  • Low background.
  • Rugged and reliable.
  • Superior depth/diffusion profiling.
  • Versatile instrument.
That design means you can achieve much lower detection limits than a time-of-flight SIMS, where you couldn’t get such optimised, stable vacuum levels. Our university has a TOF SIMS. But when they heard these new detection limits, many researchers gave up using it and came over to the CAMECA SIMS.
Dr. Takamichi Miyazaki, Tohoku University

The IMS 7f has a high-density primary ion beam with superior beam current stability, as well as sub-micron lateral resolution and nanometre depth resolution.

That stability is comparable to our field emission electron beam analyser. And you get excellent performance with small beam diameters, enabling high spatial resolution.”
Dr. Takamichi Miyazaki, Tohoku University
SIMS at Tohoku University
Dr Takamichi Miyazaki at Tohoku University

Stable Measurements

To measure the tracer diffusion coefficient, they used a combination of depth profiling and planar point analysis. This required long-term stability and optimised primary beam focusing.

The study focused on the tracer diffusion coefficient of lithium manganese oxide (LiMn2O4) thin films. The coefficient was measured using isotope ion-exchange and SIMS line analysis.

The 6Li and 7Li isotopes in the tracer exhibited the same chemical properties, so their ionisation and detection efficiencies remained almost constant. This enabled quantitative isotope ratios to be calculated from SIMS counting rates.

In contrast to TOF-SIMS, magnetic detector SIMS delivered highly reproducible data every time.

SIMS was used together with complementary data from TEM/SEM, for an extra perspective on the extremely fine-scale information.

More details about the study are available in a PDF from CAMECA.

Versatile Technique

The IMS 7f is extremely versatile. Tohoku University and researchers around the world have used it for a varied range of applications including geology, chemistry, basic physics research, and even diverse studies such as hydrogen embrittlement in steel and radioactive materials in animal horns.

More Information

To find out more about SIMS and how it could be used in your area of work, contact us for details and demonstrations.

Blue Scientific is the official distributor of CAMECA elemental and isotopic analysis instruments in the UK and Finland region. We’re available to answer all your questions – just get in touch:

 Contact us on +44 (0)1223 422 269 or

 View the CAMECA range

CAMECA SIMS at Tohoku University