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Author ORCID ID is 0000000223535986
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  1. Stabilization of electrode–electrolyte interfaces was demonstrated by manipulating core–shell heterostructures of complex oxides through a colloidal synthetic approach.
  2. Electrochemical kinetics of Li-ion battery cathodes are measured at single-particle level and combined with transmission X-ray microscopy to elucidate behavior during use.
  3. Stabilization of electrode–electrolyte interfaces is required to increase the energy stored in battery electrodes. Introducing redox-inactive ions on the electrode surface minimizes deleterious side reactions without affecting the bulk properties. A synthetic challenge exists to grow such layers conformally at each primary particle, to fully passivate interfaces that are buried in the final electrode architecture. The development of methods of sequential colloidal growth of complex oxides and overlayers, enabled by surfactant interactions, would provide novel means to advance toward this goal. For this, nanocrystals composed of LiCoO 2, a commercially relevant material for high energy devices, were grown with amore » shell enriched in Al 3+, deposited conformally through a one-pot colloidal synthetic method. The effects of synthetic conditions on the composition of the Al-rich shell and the corresponding electrochemical performance were investigated. The modified nanocrystals showed enhanced electrochemical properties, while maintaining carrier transport.« less
  4. We demonstrate a method for obtaining increased spatial resolution and specificity in nanoscale chemical composition maps through the use of full refractive reference spectra in soft x-ray spectro-microscopy. Using soft x-ray ptychography, we measure both the absorption and refraction of x-rays through pristine reference materials as a function of photon energy and use these reference spectra as the basis for decomposing spatially resolved spectra from a heterogeneous sample, thereby quantifying the composition at high resolution. While conventional instruments are limited to absorption contrast, our novel refraction based method takes advantage of the strongly energy dependent scattering cross-section and can seemore » nearly five-fold improved spatial resolution on resonance.« less
  5. The finding that triggering the redox activity of oxygen ions within the lattice of transition metal oxides can boost the performances of materials used in energy storage and conversion devices such as Li-ion batteries or oxygen evolution electrocatalysts has recently spurred intensive and innovative research in the field of energy. While experimental and theoretical efforts have been critical in understanding the role of oxygen nonbonding states in the redox activity of oxygen ions, a clear picture of the redox chemistry of the oxygen species formed upon this oxidation process is still missing. This can be, in part, explained by themore » complexity in stabilizing and studying these species once electrochemically formed. Here in this work, we alleviate this difficulty by studying the phase Ba 5Ru 2O 11, which contains peroxide O 2 2- groups, as oxygen evolution reaction electrocatalyst and Li-ion battery material. Combining physical characterization and electrochemical measurements, we demonstrate that peroxide groups can easily be oxidized at relatively low potential, leading to the formation of gaseous dioxygen and to the instability of the oxide. Furthermore, we demonstrate that, owing to the stabilization at high energy of peroxide, the high-lying energy of the empty sigma* antibonding O-O states limits the reversibility of the electrochemical reactions when the O 2 2-/O 2- redox couple is used as redox center for Li-ion battery materials or as OER redox active sites. Overall, this work suggests that the formation of true peroxide O 2 2- states are detrimental for transition metal oxides used as OER catalysts and Li-ion battery materials. Rather, oxygen species with O-O bond order lower than 1 would be preferred for these applications.« less
  6. Battery function is determined by the efficiency and reversibility of the electrochemical phase transformations at solid electrodes. The microscopic tools available to study the chemical states of matter with the required spatial resolution and chemical specificity are intrinsically limited when studying complex architectures by their reliance on two-dimensional projections of thick material. Here in this paper, we report the development of soft X-ray ptychographic tomography, which resolves chemical states in three dimensions at 11 nm spatial resolution. We study an ensemble of nano-plates of lithium iron phosphate extracted from a battery electrode at 50% state of charge. Using a setmore » of nanoscale tomograms, we quantify the electrochemical state and resolve phase boundaries throughout the volume of individual nanoparticles. These observations reveal multiple reaction points, intra-particle heterogeneity, and size effects that highlight the importance of multi-dimensional analytical tools in providing novel insight to the design of the next generation of high-performance devices.« less
  7. On the path toward the design of Li-ion batteries with increased energy densities, efforts are focused on the development of positive electrodes that can maximize the voltage of the full cell. However, the development of novel materials that operate at high voltage, while also showing high efficiency and meeting strict safety standards, is an ongoing challenge. LiCoPO 4 is being explored as a possible candidate, as the Co 2+/3+ redox couple operates at 4.8 V versus Li +/Li 0. The presence of phosphate groups is typically expected to stabilize the compound against oxygen loss, yet the changes in Co-O bondingmore » upon Li extraction have not been ascertained. In addition, LiCoPO 4 is riddled with problems relating to poor transport and strain in the crystal structure of the delithiated phase, which handicap its use as a high-voltage electrode. In this work, substituting ions to generate Li 1.025Co 0.84Fe 0.10Cr 0.05Si 0.01(PO 4) 1.025 is found to stabilize both the electronic structure and crystal structure and, therefore, substantially improve the ability to fully utilize the redox capacity of the material. A thorough study by spectroscopic tools, combined with computations of the electronic structure, was used to probe changes in chemical bonding. The measurements revealed the existence of redox gradients between surface and bulk that are common in other materials that react at high potential. Lastly, the study offers a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental reactions in LiCoPO 4-type frameworks, while further demonstrating that ion substitution is an effective tool for improving their performance.« less
  8. Oxides undergoing reversible electrochemical cycling of Mg 2+ ions would enable novel battery concepts beyond Li +, capable of storing large amounts of energy. However, materials showing this chemical reactivity are scarce. Suitable candidates require small particles to shorten transport lengths, together with chemically complex structures that promote cation mobility, such as spinel. These goals pose a challenge for materials chemists. Here, nanocrystals of spinel-type Mg 0.5Mn 2.5O 4 were prepared using colloidal synthesis, and their electrochemical activity is presented. Cycling in an aqueous Mg 2+ electrolyte led to a reversible transformation between a reduced spinel and an oxidized layeredmore » framework. This reaction involves large amounts of capacity because of the full oxidation to Mn 4+, through the extraction of both Mg 2+ and, in the first cycle, Mn 2+ ions. Re-formation of the spinel upon reduction resulted in enrichment with Mg 2+, indicating that its insertion is more favorable than that of Mn 2+. Incorporation of water into the structure was not indispensable for the transformation, as revealed by experiments in non-aqueous electrolytes and infrared spectroscopy. Lastly, the findings open the door for the use of similar nanocrystals in Mg batteries provided that electrolytes with suitable anodic stability are discovered, thereby identifying novel routes toward electrode materials for batteries with high energy.« less
  9. Redox-driven phase transformations in solids determine the performance of lithium-ion batteries, crucial in the technological transition from fossil fuels. Couplings between chemistry and strain define reversibility and fatigue of an electrode. The accurate definition of all phases in the transformation, their energetics, and nanoscale location within a particle produces fundamental understanding of these couplings needed to design materials with ultimate performance. In this paper we demonstrate that scanning X-ray diffraction microscopy (SXDM) extends our ability to image battery processes in single particles. In LiFePO 4 crystals equilibrated after delithiation, SXDM revealed the existence of domains of miscibility between LiFePO 4more » and Li 0.6FePO 4. These solid solutions are conventionally thought to be metastable, and were previously undetected by spectromicroscopy. The observation provides experimental verification of predictions that the LiFePO 4–FePO 4 phase diagram can be altered by coherency strain under certain interfacial orientations. Finally, it enriches our understanding of the interaction between diffusion, chemistry, and mechanics in solid state transformations.« less
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  10. The energy density of rechargeable batteries utilizing metals as anodes surpasses that of Li ion batteries, which employ carbon instead. Among possible metals, magnesium represents a potential alternative to the conventional choice, lithium, in terms of storage density, safety,stability, and cost. However, a major obstacle for metal-based batteries is the identification of electrolytes that show reversible deposition/dissolution of the metal anode and support reversible intercalation of ions into a cathode. Traditional Grignard-based Mg electrolytes are excellent with respect to the reversible deposition of Mg, but their limited anodic stability and compatibility with oxide cathodes hinder their applicability in Mg batteriesmore » with higher voltage. Non-Grignard electrolytes, which consist of ethereal solutions of magnesium(II) bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide (Mg(TFSI) 2), remain fairly stable near the potential of Mg deposition. The slight reactivity of these electrolytes toward Mg metal can be remedied by the addition of surface-protecting agents, such as MgCl 2. Hence, ethereal solutions of Mg(TFSI) 2 salt with MgCl 2 as an additive have been suggested as a representative non-Grignard Mg electrolyte. In this work, the degradation mechanisms of a Mg metal anode in the TFSI-based electrolyte were studied using a current density of 1 mA cm -2 and an areal capacity of ~0.4 mAh cm -2, which is close to those used in practical applications. The degradation mechanisms identified include the corrosion of Mg metal, which causes the loss of electronic pathways and mechanical integrity, the nonuniform deposition of Mg, and the decomposition of TFSI - anions. This study not only represents an assessment of the behavior of Mg metal anodes at practical current density and areal capacity but also details the outcomes of interfacial passivation, which was detected by simple cyclic voltammetry experiments. This study also points out the absolute absence of any passivation at the electrode-electrolyte interface for the premise of developing electrolytes compatible with a metal anode.« less

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