(19)
(11)EP 1 988 591 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
13.05.2020 Bulletin 2020/20

(21)Application number: 08007786.0

(22)Date of filing:  22.04.2008
(51)Int. Cl.: 
C01B 25/45  (2006.01)
H01M 4/58  (2010.01)
H01M 4/139  (2010.01)
H01M 4/36  (2006.01)
H01M 4/62  (2006.01)
H01M 10/052  (2010.01)

(54)

Composite particles for an electrode, production process thereof and electrochemical device

Verbundstoffpartikel für eine Elektrode, Herstellungsverfahren und elektrochemische Vorrichtung

Particules composites pour une électrode, son processus de production et dispositif électrochimique


(84)Designated Contracting States:
DE GB

(30)Priority: 27.04.2007 JP 2007119257

(43)Date of publication of application:
05.11.2008 Bulletin 2008/45

(73)Proprietor: TDK Corporation
Tokyo 108-0023 (JP)

(72)Inventors:
  • Suzuki, Tadashi
    Tokoy 103-8272 (JP)
  • Suzuki, Hisashi
    Tokoy 103-8272 (JP)

(74)Representative: Grünecker Patent- und Rechtsanwälte PartG mbB 
Leopoldstraße 4
80802 München
80802 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A2- 1 193 783
JP-A- 2004 303 527
US-A1- 2004 157 126
WO-A-2008/060701
US-A1- 2004 140 458
US-A1- 2006 172 195
  
  • KERR T A ET AL: "HIGHLY REVERSIBLE LI INSERTION AT 4 V IN EPSILON-VOPO4/ALPHA-LIVOPO4 CATHODES" ELECTROCHEMICAL AND SOLID-STATE LETTERS, IEEE SERVICE CENTER, PISCATAWAY, NJ, US, vol. 3, no. 10, 1 October 2000 (2000-10-01), pages 460-462, XP000963620 ISSN: 1099-0062
  • AZMI B M ET AL: "LIVOPO4 AS A NEW CATHODE MATERIALS FOR LI-ION RECHARGEABLE BATTERY" JOURNAL OF POWER SOURCES, vol. 146, 2005, pages 525-528, XP002489911
  • AZMI B M ET AL: "OPTIMIZED LIVOPO4 FOR CATHODES IN LI-ION RECHARGEABLE BATTERIES" IONICS, vol. 11, 2005, pages 402-405, XP002489912
  • AZMI B M ET AL: "Cathodic performance of LIVOPO4 prepared by impregnation method for Li ion secondary battery" 1 December 2003 (2003-12-01), ELECTROCHEMISTRY, ELECTROCHEMISTRY SOCIETY OF JAPAN, TOKYO, JP, PAGE(S) 1108 - 1110 , XP008094087 * Section "2 Experimental" *
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION


Field of the Invention



[0001] The present invention relates to composite particles for an electrode, a production process thereof and an electrochemical device.

Related Background Art



[0002] Known examples of cathode active materials of lithium ion secondary batteries include layered oxides (such as LiCoO2, LiNiO2 or LiNiMnCoO2), spinel structure compounds (such as LiMn2O4) and lithium-containing phosphates (such as LiFePO4).

[0003] Among these, although layered oxides allow the obtaining of high capacity (for example, 150 mAh/g or more), they have the problems of low thermal stability when highly charged and a lack of safety (overcharge stability). In addition, although the spinel compound LiMn2O4 (theoretical capacity: 148 mAh/g) has a stable structure and a high degree of safety (overcharge stability), it easily elutes Mn3+ ions at high temperatures (such as 45°C and above), thereby resulting in the problem of low stability of battery properties at high temperatures accompanying anode deterioration caused thereby. Consequently, lithium-containing phosphates are used in place of layered oxides and spinel structure compounds from the viewpoints of safety and high-temperature stability. Examples of batteries using a lithium-containing phosphate for the cathode active material are described in Japanese Patent No. 3484003 and Japanese Patent Application Laid-open No. 2004-303527.

[0004] However, although a typical example of a lithium-containing phosphate in the form of LiFePO4 (theoretical capacity: 169 mAh/g) has a high degree of safety and high-temperature stability, the discharge voltage relative to lithium is 3.3 to 3.4 V, which is lower than that of other cathode active materials. In addition, these materials are extremely sensitive to the atmosphere (a reducing environment is required) and temperature conditions during synthesis, and are disadvantageous for inexpensive, large-scale production.

[0005] On the other hand, another lithium-containing phosphate in the form of LiVOPO4 (theoretical capacity: 159 mAh/g) has a stable structure and a discharge voltage roughly equal to other cathode active materials (3.8 to 3.9 V relative to lithium), but does not particularly require a reducing atmosphere during synthesis as with LiFePO4. However, it demonstrates the characteristic problem of lithium-containing phosphates of low electron conductivity, making it difficult to adequately demonstrate the properties thereof in electrode structures of the prior art in which it is simply mixed with a conductive auxiliary agent.

[0006] Kerr T. A. et al, "HIGHLY REVERSIBLE LI INSERTION AT 4 V IN EPSILON-VOPO4/ALPHA-LIVOPO4 CATHODES" ELECTROCHEMICAL AND SOLID-STATE LETTERS, IEEE, vol. 3, no. 10, 1 October 2000, pages 460-462 (XP000963620) discloses composite particles comprising LiVOPO4 particles and carbon, wherein a sheath of carbon particles is formed on the lithium vanadyl phosphate particles. The composite particles are used in electrochemical lithium intercalation cathodes for batteries.

[0007] AZMI B. M. et al, "LIVOPO4 AS A NEW CATHODE MATERIALS FOR LI-ION RECHARGEABLE BATTERY", JOURNAL OF POWER SOURCES, vol. 146, 2005, pages 525-528 (XP002489911) discloses LiVOPO4 particles without a coating layer and having a BET specific surface area of 12.1 m2/g. The particles are used as cathode active material for Li-ion rechargeable batteries.

[0008] EP 1193783 A2 discloses composite Lix FePO4 /C particles, wherein x is bigger than 0 and is smaller than or equal to 1. The particles have a BET particle specific surface area of 10.3 m2/g and are used in an electrode of a non-aqueous electrolyte cell.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0009] With the foregoing in view, an object of the present invention is to provide composite particles for an electrode capable of forming an electrochemical device having superior discharge voltage and discharge capacity as well as superior rate characteristics by using them as an active material, and an electrochemical device that uses these composite particles for an electrode.

[0010] In order to achieve the above-mentioned object, the present invention provides composite particles for an electrode comprising LiVOPO4 particles and carbon, wherein the carbon is supported on at least a portion of the surface of the LiVOPO4 particles to form a carbon coating layer wherein the BET specific surface area is 1.5 to 15 m2/g.

[0011] These composite particles for an electrode allow the obtaining of superior electron conductivity as a result of the surface of the LiVOPO4 particles being coated with the carbon coating layer. In particular, since the carbon is not supported in the form of particles, but rather is formed as a layer, in comparison with the case of supporting carbon particles, in addition to being able to inhibit sloughing of the carbon, since the surface of the LiVOPO4 particles can be coated using a smaller amount and more efficiently than in the case of particles, the content of carbon in the composite particles can be reduced while effectively imparting conductivity. Consequently, an electrochemical device using these composite particles as an active material allows the obtaining of superior discharge voltage and superior discharge capacity while also allowing the obtaining of superior rate characteristics.

[0012] In addition, when the length of the outer circumference of the above-mentioned LiVOPO4 particles in a cross-section of the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention is designated as L, and the length of the portion of the outer circumference of the LiVOPO4 particles where the carbon coating layer is formed is designated as L', then the coating ratio of the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention as represented by (L'/L) is preferably 0.2 or more. As a result of making this coating ratio 0.2 or more, the electron conductivity of the composite particles can be adequately enhanced, thereby making it possible to form an electrochemical device having even better discharge capacity and rate characteristics.

[0013] The composite particles for an electrode of the present invention have a BET specific surface area of 1.5 to 15.0 m2/g. As a result of BET specific surface area being within the above range, electron conductivity of the composite particles is adequately maintained, and problems in terms of handling during fabrication of a compound coating for an electrode are reduced.

[0014] In addition, in the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention, the thickness of the carbon coating layer is preferably 10 to 500 nm. As a result of the thickness of the carbon coating layer being within this range, the composite particles allow the obtaining of adequate electron conductivity, and allow the easy penetration of the ion through the carbon coating layer, which keeps an excellent ion conductivity, thereby making it possible to more reliably form an electrochemical device having superior discharge voltage and discharge capacity, and superior rate characteristics.

[0015] Moreover, the carbon content of the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention based on the total mass of the composite particles for an electrode is preferably 1 to 6% by mass. As a result of the carbon content in the composite particles for an electrode being within this range, the active material content during formation of an electrode is an amount of a degree for practical use (since carbon does not have electrical capacity) and the composite particles have an electrical capacity for practical use as an electrode as well.

[0016] In addition, the present invention provides an electrochemical device provided with an electrode containing the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention. According to this electrochemical device, by using an electrode containing the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention demonstrating the previously described effects, in addition to obtaining superior discharge voltage and discharge capacity, superior rate characteristics can also be obtained.

[0017] In addition, in an electrochemical device of the present invention, the electrode preferably has an active material-containing layer containing the composite particles for an electrode, and the carbon content based on the total mass of the active material-containing layer is preferably 2 to 10% by mass. As a result of the carbon content in the active material-containing layer being within the above range, the active material content during electrode formation is an amount of a degree for practical use (since carbon does not have electrical capacity) and the composite particles have an electrical capacity for practical use as an electrode as well.

[0018] The present description also describes a process for producing composite particles for an electrode which comprise LiVOPO4 particles and carbon, the carbon being supported on at least a portion of the surface of the LiVOP04 particles to form a carbon coating layer, the process comprising: a fluidized layer formation step of forming the carbon coating layer on at least a portion of the surface of the LiVOP04 particles by introducing the LiVOPO4 particles and carbon particles into a fluidized bed in which an air flow has been generated and forming a fluidized layer.

[0019] According to this production process, composite particles for an electrode of the present invention that demonstrate the previously described effects can be produced efficiently and reliably. Namely, composite particles obtained with this production process differ from composite particles in which carbon particles are simply dispersed and supported on the LiVOPO4 particles in that they have carbon firmly adhered to the surface of the LiVOPO4 particles in the form of a carbon coating layer, thereby allowing the obtaining of superior electron conductivity. Consequently, composite particles obtained with this production process are able to form an electrochemical device having superior discharge voltage, discharge capacity and rate characteristics.

[0020] Here, in the above-mentioned process for producing composite particles for an electrode, the ratio of the average particle diameter of the LiVOPO4 particles to the average particle diameter of the carbon particles is preferably 10:1 to 100:1. As a result, coating of subparticles in the form of carbon onto core particles in the form of LiVOPO4 particles proceeds selectively, and aggregation between subparticles can be inhibited.

[0021] In addition, the present description describes a process for producing composite particles for an electrode which comprise LiVOPO4 particles and carbon, the carbon being supported on at least a portion of the surface of the LiVOPO4 particles to form a carbon coating layer, the process comprising: a dispersion step of introducing the LiVOPO4 particles into a carbon source-containing liquid, in which a carbon source is dissolved or dispersed in a solvent, to obtain an LiVOPO4 dispersion; and a heating step of heating the LiVOPO4 dispersion.

[0022] According to this production process, composite particles for an electrode of the present invention that demonstrate the previously described effects can be produced efficiently and reliably. Namely, composite particles obtained with this production process differ from composite particles in which carbon particles are simply dispersed and supported on LiVOPO4 particles in that they have carbon firmly adhered to the surface of the LiVOPO4 particles in the form of a carbon coating layer, thereby allowing the obtaining of superior electron conductivity. Consequently, composite particles obtained with this production process are able to form an electrochemical device having superior discharge voltage, discharge capacity and rate characteristics.

[0023] Here, in the above-mentioned process for producing composite particles for an electrode, the carbon source is preferably glucose or a polysaccharide having glucose as a constituent unit thereof. As a result, carbon is present at a high concentration in the solution, the efficiency of coating of the carbon-containing material onto a precursor prior to heat treatment in the form of LiVOPO4 particles is improved, and LiVOPO4-carbon composite particles, wherein the carbon efficiently coats LiVOPO4 particles are obtained by heat treatment.

[0024] In addition, in the above-mentioned process for producing composite particles for an electrode, the carbon source is preferably carbon. As a result, carbon characteristic of a conductive structure can be effectively coated onto the LiVOPO4 particles, thereby enabling the electron conductivity of the resulting composite particles to be improved.

[0025] In addition, in the above-mentioned process for producing composite particles for an electrode, the solvent is preferably water or ethanol. As a result, safety during production can be enhanced.

[0026] Moreover, in the above-mentioned process for producing composite particles for an electrode, the heating temperature in the heating step is preferably 400 to 600°C. As a result, crystal growth accompanying heat treatment can be suppressed, and growth of LiVOPO4 having a triclinic structure, which has inferior properties that occur at high temperatures (for example, 650°C or higher), can be inhibited. Both of these contribute to maintaining the properties of the composite particles.

[0027] Moreover, the present description describes a process for producing composite particles for an electrode which comprise LiVOPO4 particles and carbon, the carbon being supported on at least a portion of the surface of the LiVOPO4 particles to form a carbon coating layer, the process comprising: a mixing step of mixing a Li source, V source, PO4 source and carbon source to obtain a raw material mixed liquid; and a firing step of firing the raw material mixed liquid in an atmosphere at an oxygen partial pressure of 50 Pa or less.

[0028] According to this process as well, composite particles for an electrode of the present invention that demonstrate the previously described effects can be produced efficiently and reliably. Namely, composite particles obtained with this production process differ from composite particles in which carbon particles are simply dispersed and supported on the LiVOPO4 particles in that the carbon is firmly adhered to the surface of the LiVOPO4 particles in the form of a carbon coating layer, thereby allowing the obtaining of superior electron conductivity. Consequently, composite particles obtained with this production process are able to form an electrochemical device having superior discharge voltage, discharge capacity and rate characteristics.

[0029] In addition, in the above-mentioned process for producing composite particles for an electrode, the carbon source is preferably glucose or a polysaccharide containing glucose as a constituent unit thereof. As a result, the carbon source is present in a large amount in the solution, and carbon coating onto a constituent material occurs effectively, thereby contributing to improved electron conductivity of the resulting composite particles.

[0030] According to the present invention, composite particles for an electrode capable of forming an electrochemical device having superior discharge voltage and discharge capacity as well as superior rate characteristics, and an electrochemical device that uses these composite particles for an electrode can be provided.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0031] 

Fig. 1 is a schematic cross-sectional view showing an example of the basic configuration of the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention;

Fig. 2 is a front view showing a preferred embodiment of an electrochemical device of the present invention;

Fig. 3 is a developed view of the inside of the electrochemical device shown in Fig. 2 as viewed from the direction of a line normal to the surface of an anode 10;

Fig. 4 is a schematic cross-sectional view obtained by cutting the electrochemical device shown in Fig. 2, along line X1-X1 in Fig. 2;

Fig. 5 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the major part obtained by cutting the electrochemical device shown in Fig. 2, along line X2-X2 in Fig. 2;

Fig. 6 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the major part obtained by cutting the electrochemical device shown in Fig. 2, along line Y-Y in Fig. 2;

Fig. 7 is a schematic cross-sectional view showing an example of the basic configuration of a film serving as a constituent material of a case of the electrochemical device shown in Fig. 2;

Fig. 8 is a schematic cross-sectional view showing another example of the basic configuration of a film serving as a constituent material of a case of the electrochemical device shown in Fig. 2;

Fig. 9 is a schematic cross-sectional view showing an example of the basic configuration of an anode of the electrochemical device shown in Fig. 2;

Fig. 10 is a schematic cross-sectional view showing an example of the basic configuration of a cathode of the electrochemical device shown in Fig. 2; and

Fig. 11 is a TEM micrograph of a composite particle obtained in Example 1.


DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS



[0032] The following provides a detailed explanation of preferred embodiments of the present invention with reference to the drawings. Furthermore, in the drawings, the same reference symbols are used to indicate the same or equivalent components, and duplicative explanations are omitted. In addition, positional relationships such as up, down, left and right are based on the positional relationships shown in the drawings unless specifically indicated otherwise. Moreover, the dimensional ratios in the drawings are not limited to the ratios shown in the drawings.

[0033] First, an explanation is provided of the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention along with a production process thereof. Fig. 1 is a schematic cross-sectional view showing the basic configuration of a preferred embodiment of the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention. As shown in Fig. 1, a composite particle for an electrode 8 is composed of an electrode active material in the form of an LiVOPO4 particle 4, and a carbon coating layer 6 composed of carbon formed on at least a portion of the surface of the LiVOPO4 particle 4.

[0034] When the length of the outer circumference of the LiVOPO4 particle 4 in a cross-section thereof as shown in Fig. 1 is designated as L, and the length of the portion of the outer circumference of the LiVOP04 particle 4 where the carbon coating layer 6 is formed is designated as L' (same units as L), then the coating ratio of the composite particles 8 as represented by (L'/L) is preferably 0.2 or more. Furthermore, in the case the carbon coating layer 6 is formed at a plurality of locations in a cross-section thereof as in the composite particle 8 shown in Fig. 1, L' is the total value of the lengths of all portions where the carbon coating layer 6 is formed on the outer circumference of the LiVOPO4 particle 4.

[0035] In addition, although it is preferable that the above-mentioned coating ratio be 0.2 or more, it is more preferably 0.4 or more, even more preferably 0.5 or more, and particularly preferably 0.6 to 1.0. In the case this coating ratio is less than 0.2, the coating state of the LiVOP04 particles by the carbon coating layer becomes inadequate as compared with the case of the coating ratio being 0.2 or more, thereby resulting in a tendency for the electron conductivity of the composite particles to decrease. In addition, an electrode in which the coating ratio is less than 0.2 is not largely different from an electrode in which carbon and active material are simply mixed and/or dispersed, thereby resulting in the need to add additional carbon and tending to make it difficult to obtain improvement in characteristics using the minimum required amount of carbon.

[0036] The BET specific surface area of the composite particle 8 is 1.5 to 15.0 m2/g, and preferably 2.0 to 15.0 mg2/g. If the BET specific surface area is less than 1.5 m2/g, the carbon coating of the composite particle 8 tends to be inadequate, while if the BET specific surface area exceeds 15.0 m2/g, a large amount of binder is required when producing an electrode coating using this composite particle 8, the ratio of active material in the electrode decreases, and it tends to become difficult to express high capacity as an electrode.

[0037] In addition, the thickness of the carbon coating layer 6 in the composite particle 8 is preferably 10 to 500 nm and more preferably 20 to 300 nm. If the thickness of the carbon coating layer 6 is less than 10 nm, the electron conductivity of the composite particle 8 tends to be inadequate, while if the thickness exceeds 500 nm, the amount of carbon in the composite particle 8 becomes unnecessarily large, and tends to lead to a decrease in electrode capacity due to a decrease in the proportion of active material.

[0038] In addition, the carbon content of the composite particle 8 based on the total mass of said composite particle 8 is preferably 1 to 6% by mass and more preferably 2 to 5% by mass. If the carbon content is less than 1% by mass, the electron conductivity of the composite particle 8 tends to be inadequate, while if the carbon content exceeds 6% by mass, the amount of carbon in the composite particle 8 becomes unnecessarily large, and tends to lead to a decrease in electrode capacity due to a decrease in the proportion of active material.

[0039] The composite particles for an electrode of the present invention as described above can be produced by, for example, the production process described below. The following provides an explanation of first to third production processes for producing the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention.

[0040] A first production process of the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention is a process for physically forming a carbon coating layer on the surface of LiVOPO4 particles. Namely, the first production process is a process comprising a fluidized layer formation step in which a carbon coating layer is formed on at least a portion of the surface of LiVOPO4 particles by introducing LiVOPO4 particles and carbon particles into a fluidized bed in which an air flow has been generated to form a fluidized layer.

[0041] LiVOP04 particles can be obtained by, for example, mixing a Li source, V source and PO4 source at the stoichiometric ratio of LiVOPO4 followed by firing at 450 to 600°C. Examples of Li sources include Li2CO3, LiOH and lithium acetate. Examples of V sources include V2O5 and NH4VO3. Examples of PO4 sources include NH4H2PO4 and (NH4)2HPO4. Since LiVOPO4 particles obtained in this manner have an orthorhombic crystal structure and have better symmetry than triclinic structures obtained at higher temperatures, high Li ion insertion and elimination capacities can be realized.

[0042] In addition, examples of carbon particles include acetylene black, ketjen black and graphite.

[0043] Here, the ratio of the average particle diameter of the LiVOP04 particles to the average particle diameter of the carbon particles is preferably 10:1 to 100:1, and more preferably 20:1 to 100:1. As a result of making this ratio of average particle diameters within the above ranges, coating of subparticles in the form of carbon onto core particles in the form of LiVOPO4 particles proceeds selectively, and aggregation between subparticles can be inhibited.

[0044] Furthermore, the specific average particle diameter of the LiVOP04 particles is preferably 0.2 to 10 µm and more preferably 0.2 to 6 µm. On the other hand, the specific average particle diameter of the carbon particles is preferably 10 to 200 nm and more preferably 10 to 150 nm.

[0045] In the fluidized layer formation step, the LiVOPO4 particles and carbon particles are introduced into a fluidized layer rotating at high speed (preferably 13000 to 20000 rpm) and mixed. As a result, the carbon particles collide at high speed with the LiVOPO4 particles, and the relatively soft carbon particles are deformed while being coated onto the surface of the LiVOPO4 particles, resulting in the formation of a carbon coating layer.

[0046] Since a carbon coating layer obtained in this manner is physically firmly adhered to the surface of the LiVOPO4 particles, in addition to it being difficult for the carbon coating layer to separate from the LiVOPO4 particles, the resulting layer has a suitable thickness as described above (for example, 20 to 300 nm).

[0047] A second production process of the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention is a process for chemically forming a carbon coating layer on the surface of LiVOP04 particles. Namely, this second production process is a process comprising a dispersion step, in which LiVOPO4 particles are introduced into a carbon source-containing liquid, comprised by dissolving or dispersing a carbon source in a solvent, to obtain an LiVOPO4 dispersion, and a heating step, in which the LiVOPO4 dispersion is heated.

[0048] LiVOPO4 particles can be obtained according to the method explained in the first production process described above.

[0049] In addition, examples of carbon sources that can be used include organic compounds containing carbon that also dissolve in a solvent such as water, such as citric acid, maleic acid, fumaric acid, glucose and polysaccharides or oligosaccharides containing glucose as a constituent unit thereof, and carbons such as acetylene black, ketjen black and graphite. Among these, in the case of using an organic compound, since organic compounds can be dissolved in a solvent, a solution in which they are dissolved in a solvent can be used for the carbon source-containing liquid. On the other hand, in the case of using carbons, since these are insoluble in a solvent, a dispersion in which they are dispersed in a solvent is used for the carbon source-containing liquid.

[0050] In addition, among the carbon sources described above, an organic compound is used preferably from the viewpoint of allowing the carbon source to be effectively coated onto the LiVOPO4 particles, and the use of glucose or a polysaccharide containing glucose as a constituent unit thereof is more preferable.

[0051] In addition, examples of solvents that can be used to dissolve or disperse the carbon source include water and organic solvents. Ethanol is preferably used for the organic solvent.

[0052] In the above-mentioned dispersion step, the LiVOP04 particles are introduced and dispersed in the carbon source-containing liquid to obtain an LiVOPO4 dispersion.

[0053] Next, in the above-mentioned heating step, the resulting LiVOPO4 dispersion is heated. In this heating step, the LiVOPO4 dispersion is first heated to remove the solvent followed by the formation of an LiVOPO4/C precursor and further heating (firing) this precursor in an Ar, H2 or N2 atmosphere (normal pressure) or reducing gas atmosphere (reduced pressure) to precipitate carbon on the surface of the LiVOPO4 particles and form a carbon coating layer. Here, the firing temperature of the precursor is preferably 400 to 600°C and more preferably 450 to 600°C.

[0054] A third production process of the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention is a process for forming a carbon coating layer on the surface of LiVOPO4 particles simultaneous to synthesis of the LiVOP04 particles. Namely, this third production process is a process comprising a mixing step, in which a Li source, V source, PO4 source and carbon source are mixed to obtain a raw material mixed liquid, and a firing step, in which the raw material mixed liquid is fired in an atmosphere at an oxygen partial pressure of 50 Pa or less.

[0055] Here, the examples of Li sources, V sources and PO4 sources listed for the above-mentioned first production process can be used for the Li source, V source and PO4 source. In addition, the carbon sources listed for the above-mentioned second production process can be used for the carbon source. In this third production process as well, an organic compound is preferably used for the carbon source from the viewpoint of effectively coating the carbon source onto the LiVOPO4 particles, while the use of glucose or a polysaccharide containing glucose as a constituent unit thereof is more preferable. In addition, in the case of using a carbon for the carbon source, a carbon material having a comparative large specific surface area (preferably 30 m2/g or more) is used preferably.

[0056] The above-mentioned raw material mixed liquid is obtained by dissolving or dispersing the Li, V, PO4 and carbon sources in a solvent. Examples of solvents that can be used include water and organic solvents. Ethanol is preferably used for the organic solvent.

[0057] In the firing step, the solvent is removed from the resulting raw material mixed liquid followed by firing in an atmosphere having an oxygen partial pressure of 50 Pa or less. The firing atmosphere is preferably an Ar, H2 or N2 atmosphere (normal pressure) or a reducing gas atmosphere (reduced pressure). In addition, the firing temperature of the raw material mixed liquid is preferably 400 to 600°C and more preferably 450 to 600°C. As a result, a carbon coating layer is formed on the surface of the LiVOPO4 particles simultaneous to synthesis of the LiVOPO4 particles, thereby allowing the target composite particles to be obtained.

[0058] The carbon content of composite particles obtained according to the above-mentioned first through third production processes based on the total mass of the composite particles is preferably 0.5 to 6.0% by mass, more preferably 1.0 to 6.0% by mass and particularly preferably 2.0 to 5.0% by mass. If the carbon content is less than 0.5% by mass, the carbon coating layer is in the form of islands and conductivity tends to decrease. On the other hand, if the carbon content exceeds 6.0% by mass, the electrical capacity per unit mass of the composite particles tends to decrease. Furthermore, the form in which the carbon coating layer is coated on the composite particles is preferably such that the carbon coating layer is coated in the form of a thin film instead of islands around the periphery of the LiVOP04 parent particles.

[0059] Furthermore, the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention can also be produced by a process other than the first through third production processes described above. Examples of processes for producing composite particles other than the first through third production processes described above include a process in which LiVOPO4 particles and carbon particles are introduced into a dispersion medium and then mixed with ball mill.

[0060] Next, an explanation is provided of an electrochemical device of the present invention. An electrochemical device of the present invention is provided with an electrode that contains the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention as described above. More specifically, an electrochemical device of the present invention has a configuration that is provided with an anode, a cathode and an electrolyte layer having ion conductivity, wherein the anode and the cathode are arranged in opposition to each other with the electrolyte layer there between, and at least one of the anode and the cathode is an electrode containing the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention as described above. Furthermore, in the present description, an "anode" refers to that which is a negative electrode based on the polarity during discharge of the electrochemical device, while a "cathode" refers to that which is a positive electrode based on the polarity during discharge of the electrochemical device.

[0061] Fig. 2 is a front view showing a preferred embodiment of an electrochemical device of the present invention (lithium ion secondary battery). In addition, Fig. 3 is a developed view of the inside of the electrochemical device shown in Fig. 2 as viewed from the direction of a line normal to the surface of an anode 10. Moreover, Fig. 4 is a schematic cross-sectional view obtained by cutting the electrochemical device shown in Fig. 2, along line X1-X1 in Fig. 2. In addition, Fig. 5 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the major part obtained by cutting the electrochemical device shown in Fig. 2, along line X2-X2 in Fig. 2. In addition, Fig. 6 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the major part obtained by cutting the electrochemical device shown in Fig. 2, along line Y-Y in Fig. 2.

[0062] As shown in Figs. 2 to 6, an electrochemical device 1 is mainly composed of a plate-like anode 10 and a plate-like cathode 20 in mutual opposition, a plate-like separator 40 arranged between and adjacent to the anode 10 and the cathode 20, an electrolyte solution containing lithium ions (a non-aqueous electrolyte solution in the present embodiment), a case 50 that houses these components in a sealed state, an anode lead 12 of which one end is electrically connected to the anode 10 while the other end protrudes outside the case 50, and a cathode lead 22 of which one end is electrically connected to the cathode 20 while the other end protrudes outside the case 50.

[0063] The following provides a detailed explanation of each constituent feature of the present embodiment based on Figs. 2 to 10.

[0064] First, an explanation is provided of the anode 10 and the cathode 20. Fig. 9 is a schematic cross-sectional view showing an example of the basic configuration of the anode 10 of the electrochemical device 1 shown in Fig. 2. In addition, Fig. 10 is a schematic cross-sectional view showing an example of the basic configuration of the cathode 20 in the electrochemical device 1 shown in Fig. 2.

[0065] The anode 10 shown in Fig. 9 is composed of a current collector 16 and an anode active material-containing layer 18 formed on the current collector 16. In addition, the cathode 20 shown in Fig. 10 is composed of a current collector 26 and a cathode active material-containing layer 28 formed on the current collector 26.

[0066] At least one of the anode active material-containing layer 18 and the cathode active material-containing layer 28 contains the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention as described above as an active material. Furthermore, the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention as described above effectively function as a cathode active material, and are normally contained in the cathode active material-containing layer 28.

[0067] There are no particular limitations on the current collector 16 and the current collector 26 provided they are good conductors that are able to adequately transfer charge to the anode active material-containing layer 18 and the cathode active material-containing layer 28, and known current collectors used in electrochemical devices can be used. For example, examples of the current collectors 16 and 26 include metal foils each made of copper, aluminum and the like.

[0068] In addition, the anode active material-containing layer 18 of the anode 10 is mainly composed of an anode active material and a binder. Furthermore, the anode active material-containing layer 18 preferably also contains a conductive auxiliary agent.

[0069] There are no particular limitations on the anode active material provided it allows occlusion and discharge of lithium ions, elimination and insertion (intercalation) of lithium ions, or doping and dedoping of lithium ions and counter anions of said lithium ions (such as ClO4-) to proceed reversibly, and known anode active materials can be used. Examples of such active materials include carbon materials such as natural graphite, artificial graphite, non-graphitizable carbon, easily graphitizable carbon or low temperature fired carbon, metals capable of compounding with lithium such as Al, Si or Sn, amorphous compounds consisting mainly of oxides such as SiO2 or SnO2, and lithium titanium oxide (Li4Ti5O12). Carbon materials are particularly preferable, and those in which the interlayer distance d002 of the carbon material is 0.335 to 0.338 nm and the size Lc002 of crystallites of the carbon material is 30 to 120 nm are particularly preferable. Examples of carbon materials that satisfy these conditions include artificial graphite, meso carbon fibers (MCF) and meso carbon microbeads (MCMB). Furthermore, the interlayer distance d002 and crystallite size Lc002 can be determined by X-ray diffraction.

[0070] A known binder can be used for the binder used in the anode without limitation, and examples of binders include fluororesins such as polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), tetrafluoroethylene-hexafluoropropylene copolymer (FEP), tetrafluoroethylene-perfluoroalkyl vinyl ether copolymer (PFA), ethylene-tetrafluoroethylene copolymer (ETFE), polychlorotrifluoroethylene (PCTFE), ethylene-chlorotrifluoroethylene copolymer (ECTFE) and polyvinyl fluoride (PVF). This binder not only binds constituent materials such as active material particles and a conductive auxiliary agent added as necessary, but also contributes to adhesion between these constituent materials and the current collectors.

[0071] In addition, other examples of binders that may be used include vinylidene fluoride-based fluorine rubbers such as vinylidene fluoride-hexafluoropropylene-based fluorine rubber (VDF-HFP-based fluorine rubber), vinylidene fluoride-hexafluoropropylene-tetrafluoroethylene-based fluorine rubber (VDF-HFP-TFE-based fluorine rubber), vinylidene fluoride-pentafluoropropylene-based fluorine rubber (VDF-PFP-based fluorine rubber), vinylidene fluoride-pentafluoropropylene-tetrafluoroethylene-based fluorine rubber (VDF-PFP-TFE-based fluorine rubber), vinylidene fluoride- perfluoromethyl vinyl ether-tetrafluoroethylene-based fluorine rubber (VDF-PFMVE-TFE-based fluorine rubber) and vinylidene fluoride-chlorotrifluoroethylene-based fluorine rubber (VDF-CTFE-based fluorine rubber).

[0072] Moreover, additional examples of binders that may be used include polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, aromatic polyamides, cellulose, styrene-butadiene rubber, isoprene rubber, butadiene rubber and ethylene-propylene rubber. In addition, thermoplastic elastomeric polymers such as styrene-butadiene-styrene block copolymers and hydrogenation products thereof, styrene-ethylene-butadiene-styrene copolymers or styrene-isoprene-styrene block copolymers and hydrogenation products thereof may also be used. Moreover, syndiotactic 1,2-polybutadiene, ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymers or propylene-α-olefin (2 to 12 carbon atoms) copolymers and the like may also be used. In addition, conductive polymers may also be used.

[0073] There are no particular limitations on the conductive auxiliary agent used as necessary, and known conductive auxiliary agents can be used, examples of which include carbon blacks, carbon materials, metal powders such as those of copper, nickel, stainless steel or iron, mixtures of carbon materials and metal powders, and conductive oxides such as ITO.

[0074] In addition, the cathode active material-containing layer 28 of the cathode 20 is mainly composed of a cathode active material and a binder in the same manner as the anode active material-containing layer 18. In addition, the cathode active material-containing layer 28 preferably also contains a conductive auxiliary agent. The cathode active material-containing layer 28 contains the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention as a cathode active material.

[0075] Furthermore, the cathode active material-containing layer 28 may further contain a known cathode active material other than the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention. Examples of cathode active materials that can be used in combination therewith include, but are not limited to, those which allow occlusion and discharge of lithium ions, elimination and insertion (intercalation) of lithium ions, or doping and dedoping of lithium ions and counter anions of said lithium anions (such as ClO4-) to proceed reversibly, and known electrode active materials can be used, specific examples of which include lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2), lithium nickel dioxide (LiNiO2), lithium manganese spinel (LiMn2O4) and composite metal oxides represented by the general formula: LiNixCoyMnzO2 (wherein, x + y + z = 1) as well as composite metal oxides such as lithium vanadium oxide compounds (LiV2O5), olivine type LiMPO4 (wherein, M represents Co, Ni, Mn or Fe) or lithium titanium oxide (Li4Ti5O12).

[0076] The same binders used for the anode 10 can be used for the cathode 20. In addition, the same conductive auxiliary agents used for the anode 10 can be used for the cathode 20 as necessary.

[0077] In addition, the carbon content in the cathode active material-containing layer 28 based on the total mass of said cathode active material-containing layer 28 is preferably 2 to 10% by mass, more preferably 2 to 8% by mass and particularly preferably 2 to 6% by mass. If this carbon content is less than 2% by mass, electron conductivity tends to be inadequate, while if the carbon content exceeds 10% by mass, the amount of carbon in the electrode becomes excessively large and tends to lead to a decrease in electrode capacity due to a decrease in the proportion of active material.

[0078] Moreover, the content of the composite particles for an electrode of the present invention in the cathode active material-containing layer 28 based on the total mass of said cathode active material-containing layer 28 is preferably 80 to 97% by mass, more preferably 85 to 95% by mass and particularly preferably 90 to 95% by mass. If this content of composite particles is less than 80% by mass, the electrical capacity as an electrode tends to decrease, while if the content of composite particles exceeds 97% by mass, the amount of carbon contained in the electrode decreases and electron conductivity tends to decrease.

[0079] In addition, the current collector of the cathode 20 is electrically connected to one end of the cathode lead 22 composed of, for example aluminum, while the other end of the cathode lead 22 extends outside the case 50. On the other hand, the current collector of the anode 10 is similarly electrically connected to one end of the anode lead 12 composed of, for example, copper or nickel, while the other end of the anode lead 12 extends outside the case 50.

[0080] There are no particular limitations on the separator 40 arranged between the anode 10 and the cathode 20 provided it is formed from a porous body having ion permeability and is electrically insulating, and known separators used in electrochemical devices can be used. Examples of this separator 40 include film laminates composed of polyethylene, polypropylene or polyolefin, stretched films of mixtures of the above-mentioned polymers, and fiber non-woven fabrics composed of at least one type of constituent material selected from the group consisting of cellulose, polyester and polypropylene.

[0081] An electrolyte solution (not shown) is filled into a space within the case 50, and a portion thereof is contained within the anode 10, cathode 20 and separator 40. A non-aqueous electrolyte solution, in which a lithium salt is dissolved in an organic solvent, is used for the electrolyte solution. Examples of lithium salts used include LiPF6, LiClO4, LiBF4, LiAsF6, LiCF3SO3, LiCF3CF2SO3, LiC(CF3SO2)3, LiN(CF3SO2)2, LiN(CF3CF2SO2)2, LiN(CF3SO2)(C4F9SO2) and LiN(CF3CF2CO)2. Furthermore, one type of these salts may be used alone or two or more types may be used in combination. In addition, the electrolyte solution may be in the form of a gel by adding a polymer and the like.

[0082] In addition, a known solvent used in electrochemical devices can be used for the organic solvent, preferable examples of which include propylene carbonate, ethylene carbonate and diethyl carbonate. These may be used alone or two or more types may be mixed in an arbitrary ratio.

[0083] The case 50 is formed using a pair of mutually opposing films (a first film 51 and a second film 52). Here, as shown in Fig. 3, the first film 51 and the second film 52 are connected in the present embodiment. Namely, in the present embodiment, the case 50 is formed by bending a rectangular film composed of a single composite packaging film along bending line X3-X3 shown in Fig. 3, and then overlapping one set of opposing edges of the rectangular film (edge 51B of the first film 51 and edge 52B of the second film 52 in the drawing) followed by using an adhesive or carrying out heat-sealing. Furthermore, reference symbol 51A in Figs. 2 and 3 and reference symbol 52A in Fig. 3 indicate those regions of the first film 51 and the second film 52, respectively, that are not adhered or heat-sealed.

[0084] The first film 51 and the second film 52 respectively indicate the portions of the film having mutually opposing surfaces formed when bending the single rectangular film in the manner described above. Here, in the present description, the respective edges of the first film 51 and the second film 52 after being joined are referred to as "sealed portions."

[0085] As a result, since it is no longer necessary to provide a sealed portion for joining the first film 51 and the second film 52 at the portion of the bending line X3-X3, the sealed portion of the case 50 can be reduced. As a result, the volume energy density of the electrochemical device 1 based on the volume of the space where it is to be installed can be further improved.

[0086] In addition, in the case of the present embodiment, as shown in Figs. 2 and 3, each end of the anode lead 12 connected to the anode 10 and the cathode lead 22 connected to the cathode 20 is arranged so as to protrude outside the sealed portion where edge 51B of the first film 51 and edge 52B of the second film 52 are joined.

[0087] In addition, the film that composes the first film 51 and the second film 52 is a flexible film. Since this film is lightweight and can be easily formed into a thin film, it allows the form of the electrochemical device itself to be thin. Consequently, in addition to being able to easily improve the inherent volume energy density, the volume energy density based on the volume of the space where the electrochemical device is to be installed can also be easily improved.

[0088] Although there are no particular limitations on this film provided it is a flexible film, from the viewpoint of effectively preventing penetration of water and air from outside the case 50 to inside the case 50 as well as the escape of electrolyte components from inside the case 50 to outside the case 50 while ensuring adequate mechanical strength and light weight of the case, the film is preferably a "composite packaging film" at least having an innermost polymer layer in contact with a power generation unit 60 and a metal layer arranged on the opposite side of the side of the innermost layer in contact with the power generation unit.

[0089] Examples of composite packaging films able to be used for the first film 51 and the second film 52 include the composite packaging films composed as shown in Figs. 7 and 8. A composite packaging film 53 shown in Fig. 7 has an innermost polymer layer 50a in contact with the power generation unit 60 on an inner surface F53 thereof, and a metal layer 50c arranged on the other surface (outer side) of the innermost layer 50a. In addition, a composite packaging film 54 shown in Fig. 8 employs a configuration in which a polymer outermost layer 50b is further arranged on the outside of the metal layer 50c of the composite packaging film 53 shown in Fig. 7.

[0090] Although there are no particular limitations on the composite packaging film able to be used for the first film 51 and the second film 52 provided it is a compound packaging material provided with two or more layers consisting of one or more polymer layers, including the innermost layer described above, and a metal layer such as a metal foil, from the viewpoint of reliably obtaining effects similar to those described above, it is preferably composed of three or more layers consisting of the innermost layer 50a, the outermost polymer layer 50b arranged on the outer surface of the case 50 farthest from the innermost layer 50a, and at least one metal layer 50c arranged between the innermost layer 50a and the outermost layer 50b as in the composite packaging film 54 shown in Fig. 8.

[0091] The innermost layer 50a is a flexible layer, and although there are no particular limitations on the constituent material thereof provided it is a polymer capable of demonstrating flexibility as described above and has chemical stability with respect to the non-aqueous electrolyte used (characteristics that prevent the occurrence of chemical reactions, dissolution and swelling) as well as chemical stability with respect to oxygen and water (water in the air), a material is preferable also has the characteristic of low permeability with respect to oxygen, water (water in the air) and components of the non-aqueous electrolyte solution, examples of which include engineering plastics and thermoplastic resins such as polyethylene, polypropylene, acid-modified polyethylene, acid-modified polypropylene, polyethylene ionomers and polypropylene ionomers.

[0092] Furthermore, "engineering plastics" refer to plastics having superior mechanical properties, heat resistance and durability used in mechanical parts, electrical parts, housing materials and the like, and examples include polyacetals, polyamides, polycarbonates, polyoxytetramethylene oxyterephthaloyls (polybutylene terephthalates), polyethylene terephthalates, polyimides and polyphenylene sulfides.

[0093] In addition, in the case of further providing a polymer layer such as outermost layer 50b in addition to the innermost layer 50a as in the composite packaging film 54 shown in Fig. 8, the same constituent materials as those of the innermost layer 50a may be used for this polymer layer.

[0094] The metal layer 50c is preferably a layer formed from a metal material having corrosion resistance to oxygen, water (water in the air) and non-aqueous electrolyte solutions, and examples of metal materials that may be used include metal foils made of aluminum, aluminum alloy, titanium or chromium and the like.

[0095] In addition, although there are no particular limitations on the method used to seal all of the sealed portions in the case 50, heat sealing is preferable from the viewpoint of productivity.

[0096] As shown in Figs. 2 and 3, an insulator 14, for preventing contact between the anode lead 12 and the metal layer in the composite packaging film composing each film, is coated onto the portion of the anode lead 12 contacting the package sealed portion composed of edge 51B of the first film 51 and edge 52B of the second film 52. Moreover, an insulator 24, for preventing contact between the cathode lead 22 and the metal layer in the composite packaging film composing each film, is coated onto the portion of the cathode lead 22 contacting the package sealed portion composed of edge 51B of the first film 51 and edge 52B of the second film 52.

[0097] Although there are no particular limitations on the configuration of these insulators 14 and 24, they each may be formed from a polymer. Furthermore, a configuration may also be employed in which these insulators 14 and 24 are not arranged provided respective contact with the metal layer in the composite packaging film by the anode lead 12 and the cathode lead 22 can be adequately prevented.

[0098] Next, the above-mentioned electrochemical device 1 can be fabricated by, for example, the procedure described below. First, the anode lead 12 and the cathode lead 22 are electrically connected to the anode 10 and the cathode 20, respectively. Subsequently, the separator 40 is arranged in contact (but preferably not adhered) with the anode 10 and the cathode 20 there between to complete the power generation unit 60. At this time, surface F2 of the anode 10 on the side of the anode active material-containing layer 18 and surface F2 of the cathode 20 on the side of the cathode active material-containing layer 28 are arranged to be in contact with the separator 40.

[0099] Next, the case 50 is fabricated by, for example, the method described below. First, in the case of composing the first film and the second film from a composite packaging film as described above, the case is fabricated using a known production method such as dry lamination, wet lamination, hot melt lamination or extrusion lamination. In addition, a film to serve as the polymer layer composing the composite packaging film, and a metal foil made of aluminum and the like are prepared. The metal foil can be prepared by, for example, rolling a metal material.

[0100] Next, a composite packaging film (multilayer film) is preferably fabricated by, for example, laminating the metal foil onto the film serving as the polymer layer by means of an adhesive so as to form the multilayer configuration previously described. The composite packaging film is then cut to a predetermined size to prepare a single rectangular film.

[0101] Next, as previously explained with reference to Fig. 3, the single film is bent, and sealed portion 51B (edge 51B) of the first film 51 and sealed portion 52B (edge 52B) of the second film 52 are, for example, heat-sealed over a desired sealing width under predetermined heating conditions using a sealing machine. At this time, a portion is provided where a portion of the heat sealing is not carried out to secure an opening for introducing the power generation unit 60 into the case 50. As a result, the case 50 is obtained having an opening therein.

[0102] The power generation unit 60, to which the anode lead 12 and the cathode lead 22 are electrically connected, is inserted into the case 50 having an opening. Electrolyte solution is then injected inside. Continuing, the opening of the case 50 is then sealed using a sealing machine with a portion of the anode lead 12 and the cathode lead 22 respectively inserted into the case 50. Fabrication of the case 50 and the electrochemical device 1 is completed in this manner. Furthermore, an electrochemical device of the present invention is not limited to this form, but rather may also be in the form of a cylinder and the like.

[0103] Although the above has provided a detailed explanation of one preferred embodiment of an electrochemical device of the present invention, the present invention is not limited to the above-mentioned embodiment. For example, in the explanation of the embodiment as described above, the configuration may be made more compact by bending the sealed portion of the electrochemical device 1. In addition, although the explanation of the embodiment as described above explained an electrochemical device 1 provided with one anode 10 and one cathode 20 each, a configuration may also be employed in which two or more of anode 10 and cathode 20 are provided, and a single separator 40 is always arranged between the anode 10 and the cathode 20.

[0104] In addition, although the explanation of the embodiment described above explained the case of the electrochemical device being a lithium ion secondary battery, for example, an electrochemical device of the present invention is not limited to a lithium ion secondary battery, but rather may also be a secondary battery other than a lithium ion secondary battery such as a lithium metal secondary battery (that which uses the composite particles of the present invention for the cathode and lithium metal for the anode) or an electrochemical capacitor such as a lithium capacitor. In addition, an electrochemical device of the present invention can also be used in applications such as a power supply of a self-propelled micro-machine or IC card, or a distributed power supply arranged on a printed circuit board or in a printed circuit board. Furthermore, in the case of an electrochemical device other than a lithium ion secondary battery, an active material suitable for the respective electrochemical device may be used for the active material other than the composite particles of the present invention.

(Example)



[0105] Although the following provides a more detailed explanation of the present invention based on examples and comparative examples thereof, the present invention is not limited to the following examples.

(Example 1)



[0106] A Li source in the form of Li2CO3, a V source in the form of V2O5 and a PO4 source in the form of NH4H2PO4 were mixed at the stoichiometric ratio of LiVOP04 followed by firing for 12 hours at 600°C to obtain LiVOP04 particles (average particle diameter: 4.2 µm). 94 parts by mass of the resulting LiVOPO4 particles were introduced into a fluidized bed in which an air flow was generated from air together with 6 parts by mass of carbon particles in the form of ketjen black (average particle diameter: 30 µm) followed by mixing these particles for 3 minutes. As a result, composite particles were obtained in which a carbon coating layer was formed on at least a portion of the surface of the LiVOP04 particles.

[0107] The carbon content of the resulting composite particles based on the total mass of the composite particles was 5.2% by mass, and the thickness of the carbon coating layer was 100 nm. In addition, by defining the length of the outer circumference of the above-mentioned LiVOPO4 particles in the composite particles as L (4.5 µm), and defining the length of the portion of the outer circumference of the LiVOPO4 particles where the carbon coating layer is formed as L' (3.8 µm), the coating ratio (average value of the two measured points) as represented by (L'/L) was 0.84. In addition, a TEM micrograph of the resulting composite particle is shown in Fig. 11. In addition, the BET specific surface area of the resulting composite particle was 9.7 m2/g.

[0108] Next, 97 parts by mass of the resulting composite particles and 3 parts by mass of a binder in the form of polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) were mixed followed by preparing a slurry for forming an active material-containing layer by dispersing in N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP). This slurry was coated onto a current collector in the form of an aluminum foil and dried followed by rolling to obtain an electrode in which an active material-containing layer having a thickness of 40 µm was formed on a current collector having a thickness of 20 µm. The carbon content of the active material-containing layer based on the total mass of the active material-containing layer was 5% by mass.

[0109] Next, the resulting electrode and a counter electrode thereof in the form of a Li foil (thickness: 100 µm) were laminated with a separator composed of a polyethylene microporous film interposed there between to obtain a laminate (element). This laminate was inserted into an aluminum laminator pack followed by injecting an electrolyte in the form of a 1 M LiPF6 solution (solvent: EC/DEC = 3/7 (mass ratio)) into this aluminum laminator pack and vacuum-sealing the pack to fabricate an evaluation cell (length: 48 mm, width: 34 mm, thickness: 2 mm).

[0110] A constant current discharge test was carried out at a discharge temperature of 25°C using this evaluation cell to measure discharge voltage and discharge capacity at 1/20 C as well as discharge voltage and discharge capacity at 1 C. Those results are shown in Table 1.

(Example 2)



[0111] Composite particles were fabricated in the same manner as Example 1. Next, 94 parts by mass of the composite particles, 6 parts by mass of acetylene black and 4 parts by mass of polyvinylidene fluoride were mixed followed by preparing a slurry for forming an active material-containing layer by dispersing in N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP). An electrode and evaluation cell were fabricated in the same manner as Example 1 with the exception of using this slurry. The carbon content of the active material-containing layer in the resulting electrode based on the total mass of the active material-containing layer was 5% by mass. In addition, the discharge voltage and discharge capacity at 1/20 C and the discharge voltage and discharge capacity at 1 C were measured in the same manner as Example 1 using the resulting evaluation cell. Those results are shown in Table 1.

(Comparative Example 1)



[0112] LiFePO4 particles (average particle diameter 5 µm) were obtained by mixing a Li source in the form of Li2CO3, and Fe source in the form of FeSO4 and a PO4 source in the form of NH4H2PO4 at the stoichiometric ratio of LiFePO4 followed by firing for 12 hours at 600°C. 94 parts by mass of the resulting LiFePO4 particles were introduced into a fluidized bed in which an air flow was generated from air together with 6 parts by mass of carbon particles in the form of acetylene black (average particle diameter: 30 µm) followed by mixing these particles for 3 minutes. As a result, composite particles were obtained in which a carbon coating layer was formed on at least a portion of the surface of the LiFePO4 particles.

[0113] The carbon content of the resulting composite particles based on the total mass of the composite particles was 6% by mass, and the thickness of the carbon coating layer was 100 nm. In addition, by defining the length of the outer circumference of the above-mentioned LiFePO4 particles in the composite particles as L, and defining the length of the portion of the outer circumference of the LiFePO4 particles where the carbon coating layer is formed as L', the coating ratio as represented by (L'/L) was 0.85.

[0114] Next, 97 parts by mass of the resulting composite particles and 3 parts by mass of a binder in the form of polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) were mixed followed by preparing a slurry for forming an active material-containing layer by dispersing in N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP). This slurry was coated onto a current collector in the form of an aluminum foil and dried followed by rolling to obtain an electrode in which an active material-containing layer having a thickness of 40 µm was formed on a current collector having a thickness of 20 µm. The carbon content of the active material-containing layer based on the total mass of the active material-containing layer was 6.0% by mass.

[0115] An evaluation cell was fabricated in the same manner as Example 1 with the exception of using this electrode. Discharge voltage and discharge capacity at 1/20 C as well as discharge voltage and discharge capacity at 1 C were measured in the same manner as Example 1 using this evaluation cell. Those results are shown in Table 1.

(Comparative Example 2)



[0116] LiVOPO4 particles (average particle diameter: 4.2 µm) were obtained in the same manner as Example 1. 80 parts by mass of the resulting LiVOPO4 particles, 15 parts by mass of a conductive auxiliary agent in the form of acetylene black and 5 parts by mass of a binder in the form of polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) were mixed followed by preparing a slurry for forming an active material-containing layer by dispersing in N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP). This slurry was coated onto a current collector in the form of an aluminum foil and dried followed by rolling to obtain an electrode in which an active material-containing layer having a thickness of 40 µm was formed on a current collector having a thickness of 20 µm. The carbon content of the active material-containing layer based on the total mass of the active material-containing layer was 15% by mass.

[0117] When a cross-section of the resulting LiVOPO4/C mixed particles used for the electrode was observed by SEM, a carbon coating layer was not observed to have formed on the surface of the LiVOPO4 particles, but rather particles of the conductive auxiliary agent in the form of acetylene black was observed to be adhered in the form of islands. Here, when the length of the outer circumference of the LiVOPO4 particles is tentatively defined as L (6.5 µm), and the length of the portion of the outer circumference of the LiVOPO4 particles in contact with the particles of the conductive auxiliary agent is tentatively defined as L' (0.8 µm), then the coating ratio as represented by (L'/L) was 0.12.

[0118] In addition, an evaluation cell was fabricated in the same manner as Example 1 with the exception of using this electrode. Discharge voltage and discharge capacity at 1/20 C as well as discharge voltage and discharge capacity at 1 C were measured in the same manner as Example 1 using the resulting evaluation cell. Those results are shown in Table 1.
[Table 1]
 Coating Ratio (L'/L)Constant Current Discharge at 1/20 CConstant Current Discharge at 1C
Discharge Capacity (mAh/g)Discharge Voltage (V)Discharge Capacity (mAh/g)Discharge Voltage (V)
Example 1 0.84 118 3.84 81 3.60
Example 2 0.85 117 3.84 85 3.60
Comparative Example 1 0.85 130 3.35 82 2.80
Comparative Example 2 0.12 88 3.84 30 3.60



Claims

1. Composite particles for an electrode comprising LiVOPO4 particles and carbon, wherein the carbon is supported on at least a portion of the surface of the LiVOPO4 particles to form a carbon coating layer characterized in that the BET specific surface area of the composite particles is 1.5 to 15.0 m2/g.
 
2. The composite particles for an electrode according to claim 1, wherein, when the length of the outer circumference of the LiVOPO4 particles in a cross-section of the composite particles for an electrode is designated as L, and the length of the portion of the outer circumference of the LiVOPO4 particles where the carbon coating layer is formed is designated as L' then the coating ratio as represented by (L'/L) is 0.2 or more.
 
3. The composite particles for an electrode according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the thickness of the carbon coating layer is 10 to 500 nm.
 
4. The composite particles for an electrode according to any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein the carbon content based on the total mass of the composite particles for an electrode is 1 to 6% by mass.
 
5. An electrochemical device comprising an electrode containing the composite particles for an electrode according to any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein the electrode has an active material-containing layer containing the composite particles for an electrode, and the carbon content based on the total mass of the active material-containing layer is 2 to 10% by mass.
 


Ansprüche

1. Verbundteilchen für eine Elektrode, umfassend LiVOPO4-Teilchen und Kohlenstoff, wobei der Kohlenstoff auf mindestens einem Teil der Oberfläche der LiVOPO4-Teilchen aufgetragen wird, um eine Kohlenstoffbeschichtungsschicht zu bilden, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die BET spezifische Oberfläche der Verbundteilchen 1,5 bis 15,0 m2/g beträgt.
 
2. Verbundstoffteilchen für eine Elektrode nach Anspruch 1, wobei, wenn die Länge des äußeren Umfangs der LiVOPO4-Teilchen in einem Querschnitt der Verbundstoffteilchen für eine Elektrode als L bezeichnet wird und die Länge des Teils des äußeren Umfangs der LiVOPO4-Teilchen, wo die Kohlenstoffbeschichtungsschicht gebildet wird, als L' bezeichnet wird, das Beschichtungsverhältnis, wie durch (L'/L) dargestellt, dann 0,2 oder mehr beträgt.
 
3. Verbundteilchen für eine Elektrode nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei die Dicke der Kohlenstoffbeschichtungsschicht 10 bis 500 nm beträgt.
 
4. Verbundstoffteilchen für eine Elektrode nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3, wobei der Kohlenstoffgehalt, bezogen auf die Gesamtmasse der Verbundstoffteilchen für eine Elektrode, 1 bis 6 Massenprozent beträgt.
 
5. Elektrochemische Vorrichtung, umfassend eine Elektrode, enthaltend die Verbundteilchen für eine Elektrode nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 4, wobei die Elektrode eine aktives Materialenthaltende Schicht besitzt, die die Verbundteilchen für eine Elektrode enthält, und der Kohlenstoffgehalt, bezogen auf die Gesamtmasse der aktives Material-enthaltenden Schicht, 2 bis 10 Massenprozent beträgt.
 


Revendications

1. Particules composites pour électrode comprenant des particules de Li-VOPO4 et du carbone, le carbone étant supporté sur au moins une partie de la surface des particules de LiVOPO4 pour former une couche de revêtement au carbone caractérisée en ce que la surface spécifique BET des particules composites va de 1,5 à 15,0 m2/g.
 
2. Particules composites pour électrode selon la revendication 1, où lorsqu'on note L la longueur de la circonférence extérieure des particules de Li-VOPO4 dans une section transversale des particules composites pour électrode, et L' la longueur de la partie de la circonférence extérieure des particules de Li-VOPO4 où est formée la couche de revêtement au carbone, alors le rapport de revêtement représenté par (L'/L) est supérieur ou égal à 0,2.
 
3. Particules composites pour électrode selon la revendication 1 ou 2, dans lesquelles l'épaisseur de la couche de revêtement au carbone va de 10 à 500 nm.
 
4. Particules composites pour électrode selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 3, dans lesquelles la teneur en carbone basée sur la masse totale des particules composites pour électrode va de 1 à 6 % en masse.
 
5. Dispositif électrochimique comprenant une électrode contenant les particules composites pour électrode selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 4, l'électrode ayant une couche contenant du matériau actif contenant les particules composites pour électrode, et la teneur en carbone basée sur la masse totale de la couche contenant du matériau actif allant de 2 à 10 % en masse.
 




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