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Author ORCID ID is 0000000237293148
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  1. This review summarizes the recent progress in characterizing, understanding, and modifying the chemomechanical properties of layered oxide cathode materials.
  2. Affordable sodium ion batteries hold great promise for revolutionizing stationary energy storage technologies. Sodium layered cathode materials are usually multicomponent transition metal (TM) oxides and each TM plays a unique role in the operating cathode chemistry, e.g., redox activity, structural stabilization. Engineering the three-dimensional (3D) distribution of TM cations in individual cathode particles can take advantage of a depth-dependent charging mechanism and enable a path towards tuning local TM–O chemical environments and building resilience against cathode–electrolyte interfacial reactions that are responsible for capacity fading, voltage decay and safety hazards. In this study, we create 3D compositional heterogeneity in a ternarymore » and biphasic (O3–P3) sodium layered cathode material (Na 0.9Cu 0.2Fe 0.28Mn 0.52O 2). The cells containing this material deliver stable voltage profiles, and discharge capacities of 125 mA h g –1 at C/10 with almost no capacity fading after 100 cycles and 75 mA h g –1 at 1C with negligible capacity fading after 200 cycles. The direct performance comparison shows that this material outperforms other materials with similar global compositions but different mesoscale chemical distributions. Synchrotron X-ray spectroscopy/imaging and density functional theory studies reveal depth-dependent chemical environments due to changes to factors such as charge compensation and strength of orbital hybridization. Finally, 3D spectroscopic tomography illuminates the path towards optimizing multicomponent sodium layered cathode materials, to prevent the migration of TMs upon prolonged cycling. Furthermore, the study reports an inaugural effort of multifaceted and counterintuitive investigation of sodium layered cathode materials and strongly implies that there is plenty of room at the bottom by tuning nano/meso scale chemical distributions for stable cathode chemistry.« less
    Cited by 3
  3. Solar-driven photocatalytic conversion of CO 2 into fuels has attracted a lot of interest; however, developing active catalysts that can selectively convert CO 2 to fuels with desirable reaction products remains a grand challenge. For instance, complete suppression of the competing H 2 evolution during photocatalytic CO 2-to-CO conversion has not been achieved before. We design and synthesize a spongy nickel-organic heterogeneous photocatalyst via a photochemical route. The catalyst has a crystalline network architecture with a high concentration of defects. It is highly active in converting CO 2 to CO, with a production rate of ~1.6 × 10 4 μmolmore » hour –1 g –1. No measurable H 2 is generated during the reaction, leading to nearly 100% selective CO production over H 2 evolution. When the spongy Ni-organic catalyst is enriched with Rh or Ag nanocrystals, the controlled photocatalytic CO 2 reduction reactions generate formic acid and acetic acid. As a result, achieving such a spongy nickel-organic photocatalyst is a critical step toward practical production of high-value multicarbon fuels using solar energy.« less
    Cited by 10Full Text Available
  4. Lithium metal has been deemed by many as the “Holy Grail” of anode materials due to its high theoretical capacity (~3860 mA h g -1), redox potential of -3.040 V vs. SHE, and light weight. The goal of this work is to investigate the relationship between a lean lithium metal anode and its consumption as a function of host materials, electrochemical protocol and electrolyte composition. With the use of carbon nanofibers, lithium metal has been electrodeposited onto the host matrix and used in a battery with a LiNi 0.6Mn 0.2Co 0.2O 2 cathode. The mass-loading of lithium can be easilymore » controlled and utilized to investigate the practicality of an anode limited battery (i.e., limited lithium with an effective thickness <15 μm) in a high surface area matrix. We then quantify the consumption rate of active lithium using different electrolyte additives and current rates in full cells and observe that the lithium consumption behavior in an anode-limited cell is different from that in an anode-excess cell. Our results highlight the necessity of applying truly lithium-limited cells when evaluating the electrochemical properties of lithium anodes and electrolyte additives. By extending this method to a standard graphite host, full cells can retain 75% of their initial capacities after 1000 cycles. The present study demonstrates the importance of graphitic carbon in increasing the lifespan of limited lithium (<15 μm) for practical lithium metal batteries.« less
  5. Coating the surfaces of active materials has become an effective and indispensable path towards the stable operation of practical rechargeable batteries. Improving the affordability of coating processes can bring enormous manufacturing advantages to battery applications. Here in this paper, we report a cheap, simple and efficient method to create conformal coating layers on the primary particles of sodium layered oxide materials for improving battery performance. Mimicking the cathode–electrolyte interfacial reaction in practical cells, we create conformal coating layers via the spontaneous reaction between the oxidative cathode surfaces and a cocktail of reductive organic solvents. The conformal coating layers consist ofmore » metal–organic compounds with reduced transition metal cations, i.e., artificial cathode–electrolyte interphases (CEIs). The cells containing these coated cathode materials deliver much improved cycle life while maintaining reasonably high reversible capacity and rate capability. Furthermore, the structural stability and water resistance are enhanced, which can practically help simplify the storage protocol of cathode powders prior to battery manufacturing. The surfaces of most oxide cathode materials (e.g., lithium cathodes and sodium cathodes) are highly oxidative, and thus we expect that the present method, with tailored experimental parameters, can be readily applied to most battery systems.« less
  6. Nickel-rich layered materials are emerging as cathodes of choice for next-generation high energy density lithium ion batteries intended for electric vehicles. This is because of their higher practical capacities compared to compositions with lower Ni content, as well as the potential for lower raw materials cost. The higher practical capacity of these materials comes at the expense of shorter cycle life, however, due to undesirable structure and chemical transformations, especially at particle surfaces. To understand these changes more fully, the charge compensation mechanism and bulk and surface structural changes of LiNi 0.6Mn 0.2Co 0.2O 2 were probed using synchrotron techniquesmore » and electron energy loss spectroscopy in this study. In the bulk, both the crystal and electronic structure changes are reversible upon cycling to high voltages, whereas particle surfaces undergo significant reduction and structural reconstruction. While Ni is the major contributor to charge compensation, Co and O (through transition metal-oxygen hybridization) are also redox active. An important finding from depth-dependent transition metal L-edge and O K-edge X-ray spectroscopy is that oxygen redox activity exhibits depth-dependent characteristics. In conclusion, this likely drives the structural and chemical transformations observed at particle surfaces in Ni-rich materials.« less
  7. The ever–increasing demand for stationary energy storage has driven the prosperous investigation of low–cost sodium ion batteries. The inferior long–term cycling stability of cathode materials is a significant roadblock toward the wide commercialization of sodium ion batteries. This study enlightens a path toward empowering stable sodium ion batteries through incisive diagnostics of the multiscale surface chemical processes in layered oxide materials (e.g., O3–NaNi 1/3Fe 1/3Mn 1/3O 2). The major challenges are unraveled in a promising sodium layered cathode material using a range of complementary advanced spectroscopic and imaging diagnostic techniques. It is discovered that the cathode–electrolyte interfacial reaction triggers transitionmore » metal reduction, heterogeneous surface reconstruction, metal dissolution, and formation of intragranular nanocracks. These surface chemistry driven processes are partly responsible for significant performance decay. This diagnostic study also rationalizes the elemental substitution and surface passivation methods that are widely applied in the field. The prepassivated and Ti–substituted cathode materials allow for significantly improved cycling stability by inhibiting the metal dissolution. Furthermore, incisively diagnosing the interfacial chemistry not only creates scientific insights into understanding sodium cathode chemistry, but also represents an advance toward establishing universal interfacial design principles for all alkali metal ion cathode materials.« less
  8. While Li ion batteries are intended to be operated within a mild temperature window, their structural and chemical complexity could lead to unanticipated local electrochemical events that could cause extreme temperature spikes, which, in turn, could trigger more undesired and sophisticated reactions in the system. Visualizing and understanding the response of battery electrode materials to thermal abuse conditions could potentially offer a knowledge basis for the prevention and mitigation of the safety hazards. Here we show a comprehensive investigation of thermally driven chemomechanical interplay in a Li 0.5Ni 0.6Mn 0.2Co 0.2O 2 (charged NMC622) cathode material. We report that, atmore » the early stage of the thermal abuse, oxygen release and internal Li migration occur concurrently, and are accompanied by mechanical disintegration at the mesoscale. At the later stage, Li protrusions are observed on the secondary particle surface due to the limited lithium solubility in non-layered lattices. As a result, the extraction of both oxygen and lithium from the host material at elevated temperature could influence the chemistry and safety at the cell level via rearrangement of the electron and ion diffusion pathways, reduction of the coulombic efficiency, and/or causing an internal short circuit that could provoke a thermal runaway.« less
  9. Morphological defects contribute to chronic and acute failures of batteries. The development of these morphological defects entails the multiscale chemo-mechanical coupling associated with internal mechanical stress. The mechanical stress, caused by anisotropic structural, chemical and state of charge (SOC) heterogeneities, is released through crack formation, undermining the continuous diffusion pathways of electrons and ions and creating fresh surfaces for electrode–electrolyte side reactions. The understanding of chemomechanical interplay has remained at the descriptive level, thus, the quantification or model to fingerprint these processes is highly desired. Herein, we systematically investigate the mesoscale morphological defects within LiNi 0.6Mn 0.2Co 0.2O 2 secondarymore » particles that have gone through fast-charging conditions. With the advanced synchrotron X-ray tomography, we nondestructively pierce the internal volume of secondary particles and quantify the morphological outcomes of the crack formation, such as porosity and internal surface area. We then develop a numerical model to predict the crack-induced diffusion deterrent of electrons and lithium ions. The mismatch between the local ionic and electronic conductivity can lead to highly heterogeneous SOC distribution in secondary particles, which exponentially deteriorates as the current density increases. In conclusion, our incisive investigation of chemomechanical interplay and fast-charging can inform a knowledge base to accelerate the discovery of advanced materials that are resilient against chemomechanical failures.« less
    Cited by 1
  10. Redox phase transformations are relevant to a number of metrics pertaining to the electrochemical performance of batteries. These phase transformations deviate from and are more complicated than the conventional theory of phase nucleation and propagation, owing to simultaneous changes of cationic and anionic valence states as well as the polycrystalline nature of battery materials. Herein, we propose an integrative approach of mapping valence states and constructing chemical topographies to investigate the redox phase transformation in polycrystalline layered oxide cathode materials under thermal abuse conditions. We discover that, in addition to the three-dimensional heterogeneous phase transformation, there is a mesoscale evolutionmore » of local valence curvatures in valence state topographies. The relative probability of negative and positive local valence curvatures alternates during the layered-to-spinel/rocksalt phase transformation. In conclusion, the implementation of our method can potentially provide a universal approach to study phase transformation behaviors in battery materials and beyond.« less

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