Atomistic Modeling of Solid Interfaces in All-solid-state Li-ion Batteries

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All-solid-state Li-ion battery based on solid electrolyte is a promising next-generation battery technology, providing intrinsic safety and higher energy density. Despite the development of solid electrolyte materials with high ionic conductivity, the high interfacial resistance and interfacial degradation at the solid electrolyte–electrode interfaces limit the electrochemical performance of the all-solid-state batteries. Fundamental understanding about the solid-solid interfaces is essential to improve the performance of all-solid-state batteries.

In this dissertation, I perform first principles computation to bring new understanding about these solid interfaces. Using our developed computation approach based on large materials database, I calculated the intrinsic electrochemical stability window of solid electrolytes and predicted interphase decomposition products. I revealed the effects of different types of interphase layers on the interface stability and battery performance, and also provided interfacial engineering strategies to improve interface compatibility.

Lithium metal anode can provide significantly higher energy density of Li-ion batteries. However, only a limited number of materials are known to be stable against lithium metal due to its strong reducing nature. Using first-principles calculations and large materials database, I revealed the general trend of lithium reduction behavior in different material chemistry. Different from oxides, sulfides, and halides, nitride anion chemistry exhibits unique stability against lithium metal, which is either thermodynamically intrinsic or a result of stable passivation. Therefore, many nitrides materials are promising candidate materials for lithium metal anode protection.

Since solid electrolytes in all-solid-state batteries are often polycrystalline, the grain boundaries can have an important impact on the ion diffusion in solid electrolytes. I performed molecular dynamics simulations to study the ion diffusion at grain boundaries in solid electrolyte materials, and showed the distinct diffusion behavior at grain boundaries different from the facile ion transport in the bulk. In addition, I studied the order-disorder transition induced by mechanical strain in lithium garnet. Such transition can lead to orders of magnitude change in ionic diffusivity.

This series of work demonstrated that computational modeling techniques can help to gain critical fundamental understandings of the solid interfaces in all-solid-state Li-ion battery, and to provide practical engineering strategies to improve the battery performance.