First Principle Computational Study of Fast Ionic Conductors
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Fast ionic conductors have great potential to enable novel technologies in energy storage and conversion. However, it is not yet understood why only a few materials can deliver exceptionally higher ionic conductivity than typical solids or how on can design fast ion conductors following simple principles. In this dissertation, I applied first principles computational method to understanding the fast ionic diffusion within fast ionic conductors and I demonstrated a conceptually simple framework for guiding the design of super-ionic conductor materials. I studied Na0.5Bi0.5TiO3 (NBT) as the model material for oxygen ionic conductor. The structure-property relationship of the NBT materials is established. Based on the newly gained materials understanding, our first principles computation predicted that Na and K were promising dopants to increase oxygen ionic conductivity. The newly designed NBT materials with A-site Na and K substituted A sites exhibited a many-fold increase in the ionic conductivity at 900K comparing to that in the experimental compound. We demonstrated that the concerted migration mechanism with low energy barrier is the universal mechanism of fast ionic diffusion in a broad range of ionic conducting materials. Our theory provides a conceptually simple framework for guiding the design of super-ionic conductor materials, that is, inserting mobile ions into high-energy sites to activate concerted ion conduction with lower migration barriers. We demonstrated this strategy by designing a number of novel fast Li-ion conducting materials to activate concerted migration with reduced diffusion barrier. We identified the common features of crystal structural framework for lithium SICs. Based on the determined attributes, we performed a high-throughput screening of all lithium-containing oxide and sulfide compounds. The screening revealed several crystal structures that are potential to be fast ion conductors. Through aliovalent doping, we modified the Li content of these structures which resulting in different Li sublattice within the structure and we found a number of lithium super- ionic conductors that are predicted to have Li+ conductivities greater than 0.1 mS/cm at 300K.