Direct Observation of Dynamic Lithium Diffusion Behaviour in Nickel-Rich, LiNi0.8Mn0.1Co0.1O2 (NMC811) Cathodes using Operando Muon Spectroscopy

19 August 2022, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Ni-rich layered oxide cathode materials such as LiNi0.8Mn0.1Co0.1O2 (NMC811) are widely tipped as the next generation cathodes for lithium-ion batteries. The NMC class offer a high capacity but suffer an irreversible first cycle capacity loss, a result of slow Li+ diffusion kinetics at low state of charge. Understanding the origin of these kinetic hindrances to Li+ mobility inside the cathode is vital to negate the first cycle capacity loss in future materials design. Here, we report on the development of operando muon spectroscopy (μSR) to probe the Å-length scale Li+ ion diffusion in NMC811 during its first cycle, and how this can be compared to electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) and galvanostatic intermittent titration technique (GITT). Volume-averaged muon implantation enables measurements which are largely unaffected by interface/surface effects, thus providing a specific characterisation of the fundamental bulk properties to complement the surface dominated electrochemical methods. First cycle measurements show that the bulk Li+ mobility is less affected than the surface Li+ mobility at depth of discharge, indicating that sluggish surface diffusion is the likely cause of first cycle irreversible capacity loss. Additionally, we demonstrate that trends in the nuclear field distribution width of the implanted muons during cycling correlate with those seen in differential capacity, suggesting the sensitivity of this μSR parameter to the transition metal (TM) redox and TM-O bond length changes.


Li+ Diffusion

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Containing operando X-ray diffraction results, fitting results for impedance experiments, experimental details for GITT and muSR, and muon site analysis.


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