Atomistic Simulation Informs Interface Engineering of Nanoscale LiCoO2

S Dahl and T Aoki and A Banerjee and BP Uberuaga and RHR Castro, CHEMISTRY OF MATERIALS, 34, 7788-7798 (2022).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.2c01246

Lithium-ion batteries continue to be a critical part of the search for enhanced energy storage solutions. Understanding the stability of interfaces (surfaces and grain boundaries) is one of the most crucial aspects of cathode design to improve the capacity and cyclability of batteries. Interfacial engineering through chemical modification offers the opportunity to create metastable states in the cathodes to inhibit common degradation mechanisms. Here, we demonstrate how atomistic simulations can effectively evaluate dopant interfacial segregation trends and be an effective predictive tool for cathode design despite the intrinsic approximations. We computationally studied two surfaces, 001 and 104, and grain boundaries, sigma 3 and sigma 5, of LiCoO(2 )to investigate the segregation potential and stabilization effect of dopants. Isovalent and aliovalent dopants (Mg2+, Ca2+, Sr2+, Sc3+, Y3+, Gd3+, La3+, Al3+, Ti4+, Sn4+, Zr4+, V5+) were studied by replacing the Co3+ sites in all four of the constructed interfaces. The segregation energies of the dopants increased with the ionic radius of the dopant. They exhibited a linear dependence on the ionic size for divalent, trivalent, and quadrivalent dopants for surfaces and grain boundaries. The magnitude of the segregation potential also depended on the surface chemistry and grain boundary structure, showing higher segregation energies for the sigma 5 grain boundary compared with the lower energy sigma 3 boundary and higher for the 104 surface compared to the 001. Lanthanum-doped nanoparticles were synthesized and imaged with scanning transmission electron microscopy-electron energy loss spectroscopy (STEM-EELS) to validate the computational results, revealing the predicted lanthanum enrichment at grain boundaries and both the 001 and the 104 surfaces.

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