Understanding and Controlling the Degradation of Nickel-rich Lithium-ion Layered Cathodes

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Virginia Tech


Consumers use batteries daily, and the lithium-ion battery has undergone a lot of engineering advances in the last few decades. There is a need to understand and improve the cathode chemistry to adapt to the rapidly growing electronics and electric vehicle market that is continually demanding more energy from batteries. Nickel-rich layered LiNi1-x-yMnxCoyO₂ (1-x-y ≥ 0.6, NMC) cathodes could potentially provide the necessary energy to meet the demand of the high energy applications.

Overcoming the stability issues from oxygen activation in nickel-rich materials is one of the largest challenges facing the commercial incorporation of NMCs. This thesis focuses on, LiNi0.8Mn0.1Co0.1 (NMC811). Using surface sensitive techniques, such as Xray Absorption (XAS), our research reveals that degradation of NMC811 occurs during cycling, regardless of temperature, and that oxygen activation plays a role in the overall surface changes and degradation observed in NMC811. The thesis then explores the role of substituting a transition metal in the NMC811.

Then we used a gradient addition of titanium to the NMC811 material to stabilize the battery performance. Theoretical techniques, such as Finite Difference Method Near Edge Structure, and experimental techniques, such as XAS, revealed how transition metal substitution, specifically titanium, stabilized the lattice. The results indicated that titanium deactivates oxygen by limiting the nickel and oxygen covalency that typically leads to oxygen activation upon charging. We observed that the titanium substitution increases cycling reversibility after hundreds of cycles.

Overall, the work indicates that a more stable nickel-rich material is possible. It identifies the reasons why substitution can work in cathode materials. Additionally, the methods described can provide a guideline to further studies of stabilization of the cathode.



Nickel-rich, surface chemistry, layered oxide cathode, titanium, doping, phase transformation