Heterogeneous Redox Chemistries in Layered Oxide Materials for Lithium-Ion Batteries

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Virginia Tech


The invention of the lithium-ion battery has revolutionized the passenger transportation field in recent years, and it has emerged as one of the state-of-the-art solutions to address greenhouse gases emission and air pollution issues. Layered oxide lithium-ion battery cathode materials have become commercially successful in the past few decades due to their high energy density, high power density, long cycle life, and low cost. Yet, with the increasing demand for battery performance, it is crucial to understand the material fading mechanisms further to improve layered oxide materials' performance. A heterogeneous redox reaction is a dominant fading mechanism, which limits the utilization percentage of a battery materials' redox capability and leads to adverse effects such as detrimental interfacial reactions, lattice oxygen release, and chemomechanical breakdown. Crystallographic defects, such as dislocations and grain boundaries, are rich in battery materials. These crystallographic defects change the local lithium-ion diffusivity and have a dramatic effect on the redox reactions. To date, there is still a knowledge gap on how various crystallographic defects affect electrochemistry at the microscopic scale. Herein, we adopted synchrotron-based diffraction, imaging, and spectroscopic techniques to systematically study the correlation between crystallographic defects and redox chemistries in the nanodomain. Our studies shed light on design principles of next-generation battery materials.

In Chapter 1, we first provide a comprehensive background introduction on the battery chemistry at various length scales. We then introduce the heterogeneous redox reactions in layered oxide cathode materials, including a discussion on the impacts of heterogeneous redox reactions. Finally, we present the different categories of crystallographic defects in layered oxide materials and how these crystallographic defects affect electrochemical performance.

In Chapter 2, we use LiCoO2, a representative layered oxide cathode material, as the material platform to quantify the categories and densities of various crystallographic defects. We then focus on geometrically necessary dislocations as they represent a major class of crystallographic defects in LiCoO2. Combining synchrotron-based X-ray fluorescence mapping, micro-diffraction, and spectroscopic techniques, we reveal that geometrically necessary dislocations can facilitate the charging reactions in LiCoO2 grains. Our study illustrates that the heterogeneous redox chemistries can be potentially mitigated by precisely controlling the defects.

In Chapter 3, we systematically investigated how grain boundaries affect redox reactions. We reveal that grain boundaries can guide redox reactions in LiNixMnyCo1-x-yO2 (NMC) materials. Specifically, NMC materials with radially aligned grains have a more uniform charge distribution, less stress mismatch, and better cycling performance. NMC materials with randomly orientated grains have a more heterogeneous redox reaction. These heterogeneous redox reactions are related to the lattice strain mismatch and worse cycling performance. Our study emphasizes the importance of tuning grain orientations to achieve improved performance.

Chapter 4 systematically investigated how the grain boundaries and crystallographic orientations affect the thermal stability of layered oxide cathode materials. Combining diffraction, spectroscopic, and imaging techniques, we reveal that a cathode materials' microstructure plays a significant role in determining the lattice oxygen release behavior and, therefore, determines cathode materials' thermal stability. Our study provides a fundamental understanding of how the grain boundaries and crystallographic orientations can be tuned to develop better cathode materials for the next-generation Li-ion batteries.

Chapter 5 summarizes the contributions of our work and provides our perspective on future research directions.



Lithium-ion batteries, layered oxides, heterogeneous redox reactions, crystallographic defects, synchrotron characterizations