Concept: Lithium iron phosphate battery
Olivine lithium iron phosphate is a technologically important electrode material for lithium-ion batteries and a model system for studying electrochemically driven phase transformations. Despite extensive studies, many aspects of the phase transformation and lithium transport in this material are still not well understood. Here we combine operando hard X-ray spectroscopic imaging and phase-field modeling to elucidate the delithiation dynamics of single-crystal lithium iron phosphate microrods with long-axis along the  direction. Lithium diffusivity is found to be two-dimensional in microsized particles containing ~3% lithium-iron anti-site defects. Our study provides direct evidence for the previously predicted surface reaction-limited phase-boundary migration mechanism and the potential operation of a hybrid mode of phase growth, in which phase-boundary movement is controlled by surface reaction or lithium diffusion in different crystallographic directions. These findings uncover the rich phase-transformation behaviors in lithium iron phosphate and intercalation compounds in general and can help guide the design of better electrodes.
Down to the wire: Three-dimensional interconnected Si-based nanowires are produced through the combination of thermal decomposition of SiO and a metal-catalyzed nanowire growth process. This low-cost and scalable approach provides a promising candidate for high-capacity anodes in lithium-ion batteries.
Spinel-type LiNi0.5Mn1.5O4 porous nanorods assembled with nanoparticles have been prepared and investigated as high-rate and long-life cathode materials for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. One dimensional porous nanostructures of LiNi0.5Mn1.5O4 with ordered P4332 phase were obtained through solid-state Li and Ni implantation of porous Mn2O3 nanorods that resulted from thermal decomposition of the chain-like MnC2O4 precursor. The fabricated LiNi0.5Mn1.5O4 delivered specific capacities of 140 and 109 mAh g-1 at 1 C and 20 C rate, respectively. At 5 C cycling rate, a capacity retention of 91% was sustained after 500 cycles, with extremely low capacity fade (< 1%) during the initial 300 cycles. The remarkable performance was attributed to the porous 1D nanostructures that can accommodate strain relaxation by slippage at the subunits wall boundaries and provide short Li-ion diffusion distance along the confined dimension.
Homogeneous nanocomposites of nanocrystalline Li2MnSiO4 and carbon as well as a carbon nanotubes-embedded nanocomposite are synthesized directly by a novel method using organic-inorganic hybrid polymers which consist of covalently bonded phenolic oligomer and siloxane parts. The nanocomposites show superior charge-discharge performance at room temperature in spite of low carbon contents.
Hollow 0.3Li(2)MnO(3)·0.7LiNi(0.5)Mn(0.5)O(2) microspheres are synthesized on a large scale through a simple in situ template-sacrificial route. Starting from porous MnO(2) microspheres, the hollow microspheres assembled with 0.3Li(2)MnO(3)·0.7LiNi(0.5)Mn(0.5)O(2) nanocrystals are formed by a nanoscale Kirkendall effect. The nanocrystal-assembled hollow 0.3Li(2)MnO(3)·0.7LiNi(0.5)Mn(0.5)O(2) microspheres exhibit a highly reversible capacity as high as 295 mAh g(-1) over 100 cycles and excellent rate capability (125 mAh g(-1) at 1000 mA g(-1)). Benefitting from a unique hollow and nanocrystalline architecture, the as-formed hollow microspheres show much enhanced high-temperature (55 °C) electrochemical performances, compared with the products obtained by conventional sol-gel/solid-state reaction methods. This work demonstrates that a fabrication strategy based on the present in situ template-sacrificial approach offers a new method for the design of high-performance cathode materials with hollow interiors for Li-ion battery applications.
Homogeneous LiF/Fe/Graphene nanocomposites as cathode material for lithium ion batteries have been synthesized for the first time by a facile two-step strategy, which not only avoids the use of highly corrosive reagents and expensive precursors but also fully takes advantage of the excellent electronic conductivity of graphene. The capacity remains higher than 150 mAh g-1 after 180 cylces, indicating high reversible capacity and stable cyclability. The ex-situ XRD and HRTEM investigations on the cycled LiF/Fe/G nanocomposites conform the formation of FeFx and the coexistence of LiF and FeFx at the charged state. Therefore, the heterostructure nanocomposites of LiF/Fe/Graphene with nano-LiF and ultrafine Fe homogeneously anchored on graphene sheets could open up a novel avenue for the application of iron fluorides as high performance cathode materials for lithium ion batteries.
The rapid insertion and extraction of Li ions from a cathode material is imperative for the functioning of a Li-ion battery. In many cathode materials such as LiCoO2, lithiation proceeds through solid-solution formation, whereas in other materials such as LiFePO4 lithiation/delithiation is accompanied by a phase transition between Li-rich and Li-poor phases. We demonstrate using scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM) that in individual nanowires of layered V2O5, lithiation gradients observed on Li-ion intercalation arise from electron localization and local structural polarization. Electrons localized on the V2O5 framework couple to local structural distortions, giving rise to small polarons that serves as a bottleneck for further Li-ion insertion. The stabilization of this polaron impedes equilibration of charge density across the nanowire and gives rise to distinctive domains. The enhancement in charge/discharge rates for this material on nanostructuring can be attributed to circumventing challenges with charge transport from polaron formation.
On page 6111, X. Chen and co-workers report for the first time a protocol to grow ultralong TiO2 -based nanotubes from tiny TiO2 nanoparticles by a stirring hydrothermal method. The study confirms that the mechanical-force-driven stirring process is the reason for the lengthening of the nanotubes. This protocol to synthesize elongated nanostructures can be extended to other nanostructured systems, opening up new opportunities for manufacturing advanced functional materials for high-performance energy-storage devices.
Lithium-ion batteries with a Si anode can drive large mechanical actuation by utilizing the dramatic volume changes of the electrode during the charge/discharge cycles. A large loading of more than 10 MPa can be actuated by a LiFePO4 ||Si full battery with a rapid response while the driving voltage is lower than 4 V.
Carbon coating is a commonly employed technique for improving the conductivity of active materials in lithium ion batteries. The carbon coating process involves pyrolysis of organic substance on lithium iron phosphate particles at elevated temperature to create a highly reducing atmosphere. This may trigger the formation of secondary phases in the active materials. Here, we observe a conductive phase during the carbon coating process of lithium iron phosphate and the phase content is size, temperature, and annealing atmosphere dependent. The formation of this phase is related to the reducing capability of the carbon coating process. This finding can guide us to control the phase composition of carbon-coated lithium iron phosphate and to tune its quality during the manufacturing process.