Battery Materials and Diagnostics Group

Our first goal is to develop novel materials and to improve existing materials for Li/Na-ion batteries. We apply different synthetic routes, such as sol-gel chemistry, mechano-synthesis, solid-state synthesis under various controlled atmospheres, and microwave synthesis to control the morphology and to obtain the most promising electrochemical performances of the investigated systems. We have also the capability of realizing thin film growth of solid electrolyte, cathode and anode materials for applications e.g. in micro-batteries or to be used as model electrodes. The thin films growth are performed in our UHV cluster connected to the XPS spectrometer and equipped with RF sputtering, e-gun evaporators under various gas atmosphere.

Our second goal is to elucidate the electrochemical reaction mechanisms by applying post mortem or operando measurements by combining a wide range of techniques in-house or at big facilities dedicated to surface and bulk characterization. We have developed electrochemical cells for liquid-based and all-solid-state batteries for operando X-ray diffraction, neutron diffraction, X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS in transmission, TEY and TFY modes), X-ray tomography, X-ray photoemission electron microscopy (XPEEM), X-ray photoemission spectroscopy (XPS) etc. Many of our activities are supported by our industrial partners.

The BMD group offers the opportunity to conduct thesis and semester projects in the field of Li-ion all-solid-state batteries and their bulk and surface in-situ/operando characterization. Currently available research topics focus on surface modifications of the electrode-electrolyte interface to enhance battery performance, "thin Li metal" or "Li-reservoir free" anodes applications and the study of chemo-mechanical phenomena at the battery interfaces.

In particular we offer a master thesis project on operando X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to study the electrode-electrolyte interface during battery operation. In the frame of such project you will learn how to build all-solid-state batteries and evaluate their electrochemical performance in regard of their degradation phenomena. You will learn how to characterize solid-solid interfaces by XPS and complement your findings by SEM, EDX, ion-milling and XRD. Moreover, you will learn how to work in an electrochemistry laboratory and how to operate on an Argon filled glovebox.

We encourage bachelor and master students who are interested in conducting their thesis or semester project in our lab to contact our postdoctoral researcher Valerie Siller via email:

Please provide a C.V. and a short description of your motivation for this application, desired period of time and briefly state your current experience of working in a laboratory or with any of the techniques mentioned above (if applicable).

PhD students and Postdocs

  • Dr. Tian Liu, 2021-2023 - IVECO Group Switzerland
  • Dr. Santhosha Aggunda Lingamurthy, 2022 - SAFT, France
  • Dr. Ales Stefancic, 2019-2021 - Belenos, Switzerland
  • Dr. Steven Lacey, 2019-2021 - Postdoc at Huntsman Advanced Materials - Switzerland
  • Dr. Juliana Bruneli Falqueto, 2020-2021 - Postdoc at Paul Scherrer institute, Switzerland
  • Dr. Laura Höltschi, 2016-2021 - Leclanché 
  • Dr. Marta Mirolo, 2016-2020 - Postdoc at ESRF - ID31, Grenoble France
  • Dr. Xiaohan Wu, 2016-2019 - Porsche consulting, Germany
  • Dr. Daniela Leanza, 2015-2018 - R&D Battery Engineer at Sonova group, Switzerland
  • Dr. Giulio Ferraresi, 2014-2018 - Hilti, Liechtenstein

Master/Semester Students and Visitors

  • Robin Wullich, 2022 - ETH-Zurich
  • Ernesto Claure Ramirez, 2022 - Friedrich-Alexander Universitaet Erlangen-Nuernberg
  • Adil Baiju, 2022 - ETH-Zurich
  • Bowen Li, 2022 - Technology University of Denmark-DTU
  • Joel Handschin, 2021 - ETH-Zurich
  • Moritz Bohn, 2020 - Technical University Munich (TUM)
  • Gabriel Quintans, 2020 - IAESTE, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden 
  • Keisuke Morita, 2019 - Toyota Motor Corporation, Japan
  • Nick Seiller, 2018 
  • Dr. Alice Judith Gillen, 2014 - Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • Falqueto JB, Clark AH, Kondracki Ł, Bocchi N, El Kazzi M
    Unveiling the (de-)lithiation mechanism of nano-sized LiMn2O4 allows the design of a cycling protocol for achieving long-term cycling stability
    Journal of Materials Chemistry A. 2023; 11: 24800-24811.
  • Lacey SD, Gilardi E, Müller E, Merckling C, Saint-Girons G, Botella C, et al.
    Integration of Li4Ti5O12 crystalline films on silicon toward high-rate performance lithionic devices
    ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. 2023; 15(1): 1535-1544.
  • Falqueto JB, Clark AH, Štefančič A, Smales GJ, Vaz CAF, Schuler AJ, et al.
    High performance doped Li-rich Li1+xMn2-xO4 cathodes nanoparticles synthesized by facile, fast, and efficient microwave assisted hydrothermal route
    ACS Applied Energy Materials. 2022; 5(7): 8357-8370.
  • Wu X, Mirolo M, Vaz CAF, Novák P, El Kazzi M
    Reactivity and potential profile across the electrochemical LiCoO2-Li3PS4 interface probed by operando X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
    ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. 2021; 13(36): 42670-42681.
  • Höltschi L, Borca CN, Huthwelker T, Marone F, Schlepütz CM, Pelé V, et al.
    Performance-limiting factors of graphite in sulfide-based all-solid-state lithium-ion batteries
    Electrochimica Acta. 2021; 389: 138735 (10 pp.).
  • Mirolo M, Wu X, Vaz CAF, Novák P, El Kazzi M
    Unveiling the complex redox reactions of SnO2in Li-Ion batteries using operando X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and in situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy
    ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. 2021; 13(2): 2547-2557.
  • Leanza D, Vaz CAF, Novák P, El Kazzi M
    Instability of PVDF binder in the LiFePO4 versus Li4Ti5O12 Li‐Ion battery cell
    Helvetica Chimica Acta. 2021; 104(1): e2000183 (9 pp.).
  • Höltschi L, Jud F, Borca C, Huthwelker T, Villevieille C, Pelé V, et al.
    Study of graphite cycling in sulfide solid electrolytes
    Journal of the Electrochemical Society. 2020; 167(11): 110558 (10 pp.).
  • Vaz CAF, Kleibert A, EL Kazzi M
    Nanoscale XPEEM spectromicroscopy
    In: Sattler KD, ed. Advanced analytic methods and instrumentation. 21st century nanoscience – a handbook. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis; 2020:17 (21 pp.).
  • Mirolo M, Vaz CAF, Novák P, El Kazzi M
    Multi-length-scale x-ray spectroscopies for determination of surface reactivity at high voltages of LiNi0.8Co0.15Al0.05O2 vs Li4Ti5O12
    Journal of Chemical Physics. 2020; 152(18): 184705 (13 pp.).
  • Wu X, Villevieille C, Novák P, El Kazzi M
    Insights into the chemical and electronic interface evolution of Li4Ti5O12 cycled in Li2S-P2S5 enabled by operando X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
    Journal of Materials Chemistry A. 2020; 8(10): 5138-5146.
  • Mirolo M, Leanza D, Höltschi L, Jordy C, Pelé V, Novák P, et al.
    Post mortem and operando XPEEM: a surface-sensitive tool for studying single particles in Li-Ion battery composite electrodes
    Analytical Chemistry. 2020; 92(4): 3023-3031.
  • Leanza D, Mirolo M, F. Vaz CA, Novák P, El Kazzi M
    Surface degradation and chemical electrolyte oxidation induced by the oxygen released from layered oxide cathodes in Li−ion batteries
    Batteries and Supercaps. 2019; 2: 482-492.
  • Leanza D, Vaz CAF, Melinte G, Mu X, Novák P, El Kazzi M
    Revealing the dual surface reactions on a HE-NCM Li-Ion battery cathode and their impact on the surface chemistry of the counter electrode
    ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. 2019; 11(6): 6054-6065.
  • Ferraresi G, El Kazzi M, Czornomaz L, Tsai C-L, Uhlenbruck S, Villevieille C
    Electrochemical performance of all-solid-state Li-ion batteries based on garnet electrolyte using silicon as a model electrode
    ACS Energy Letters. 2018; 3(4): 1006-1012.
  • Ferraresi G, Villevieille C, Czekaj I, Horisberger M, Novák P, El Kazzi M
    SnO2 model electrode cycled in Li-Ion battery reveals the formation of Li2SnO3 and Li8SnO6 phases through conversion reactions
    ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. 2018; 10(10): 8712-8720.
  • Leanza D, Vaz CAF, Czekaj I, Novák P, El Kazzi M
    Solving the puzzle of Li4Ti5O12 surface reactivity in aprotic electrolytes in Li-ion batteries by nanoscale XPEEM spectromicroscopy
    Journal of Materials Chemistry A. 2018; 6(8): 3534-3542.
  • Sun B, El Kazzi M, Müller E, Berg EJ
    Toward high-performance Li(NixCoyMnz)O2 cathodes: facile fabrication of an artificial polymeric interphase using functional polyacrylates
    Journal of Materials Chemistry A. 2018; 6(36): 17778-17786.
  • Wu X, Villevieille C, Novák P, El Kazzi M
    Monitoring the chemical and electronic properties of electrolyte-electrode interfaces in all-solid-state batteries using operando X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
    Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. 2018; 20(16): 11123-11129.
  • Ferraresi G, Czornomaz L, Villevieille C, Novák P, El Kazzi M
    Elucidating the surface reactions of an amorphous Si thin film as a model electrode for Li-ion batteries
    ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. 2016; 8(43): 29791-29798.
  • El Kazzi M, Czekaj I, J. Berg E, Novák P, Brown MA
    Investigation of Li-ion solvation in carbonate based electrolytes using near ambient pressure photoemission
    Topics in Catalysis. 2016; 59(5-7): 628-634.