Mapping Competitive Reduction Upon Charging in LiNi_{0.8}Co_{0.15}Al_{0.05}O₂ Primary Particles

Published: 25-06-2020| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/md9syg4xfv.1
Mark Wolfman


Side reactions involving surface reduction play a critical role in the failure of LiNi0.8Co0.15Al0.05O2 to reach its theoretical capacity as a cathode material for Li-ion batteries. While macroscopic consequences are known, the underlying nanoscopic mechanisms are not fully elucidated. By coupling X-ray spectroscopy with several X-ray microscopy modalities, we have spatially resolved the extent of Ni oxidation at several states of charge and uncovered heterogeneity that is hidden when considering ensemble measurements alone. The use of morphologically controlled particles enabled high-resolution imaging of these materials, uncovering gradients of Ni oxidation states within individual primary particles. At high states of charge, these gradients revealed regions of possible oxygen deficiency extending deeper into the particle than previously observed. Surface-sensitive X-ray coupled scanning tunneling microscopy allows oxidation states to be measured at the material’s surface, showing predominantly Ni(II) in the first atomic layer, and mixtures of Ni(II) with Ni(III) / Ni(IV) already appearing 1.5nm into the particle. These results reveal the subtle interplay between irreversible surface transformations and the bulk reactions that ultimately define function, which will refine strategies of surface passivation that are key to overcoming current performance limitations.