Anionic and Cationic Redox Processes in β-Li2IrO3 and Their Structural Implications on Electrochemical Cycling in Li-Ion Cell

The recent discovery of anionic redox as a means to increase the energy density of transition metal oxide positive electrodes is now a well established approach in the Li-ion battery field. However, the science behind this new phenomenon pertaining to various Li-rich materials is still debated. Thus, it is of paramount importance to develop a robust set of analytical techniques to address this issue. Herein, we use a suite of synchrotron-based X-ray spectroscopies as well as diffraction techniques to thoroughly characterize the different redox processes taking place in a model Li-rich compound, the tridimentional hyperhoneycomb β-Li2IrO3. We clearly establish that the reversible removal of Li+ from this compound is associated to a previously described reductive coupling mechanism and the formation of the M-(O-O) and M-(O-O)* states. We further show that the respective contributions to these states determine the spectroscopic response for both Ir L3-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) and X-ray photoemissions spectroscopy (XPS). Although the high covalency and the robust tridimentional structure of this compound enable a high degree of reversibile delithiation, we found that pushing the limits of this charge compensation mechanism has significant effects on the local as well as average structure, leading to electrochemical instability over cycling and voltage decay. Overall, this work highlights the practical limits to which anionic redox can be exploited and sheds some light on the nature of the oxidized species formed in certain lithium-rich compounds.