Nanoparticles-infused lithium manganese phosphate coated with magnesium-gold composite thin film - a possible novel material for lithium ion battery olivine cathode.
Hlongwa, Ntuthuko Wonderboy
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Architecturally enhanced electrode materials for lithium ion batteries (LIB) with permeable morphologies have received broad research interests over the past years for their promising properties. However, literature based on modified porous nanoparticles of lithium manganese phosphate (LiMnPO₄) is meagre. The goal of this project is to explore lithium manganese phosphate (LiMnPO₄) nanoparticles and enhance its energy and power density through surface treatment with transition metal nanoparticles. Nanostructured materials offer advantages of a large surface to volume ratio, efficient electron conducting pathways and facile strain relaxation. The material can store lithium ions but have large structure change and volume expansion during charge/discharge processes, which can cause mechanical failure. LiMnPO₄ is a promising, low cost and high energy density (700 Wh/kg) cathode material with high theoretical capacity and high operating voltage of 4.1 V vs. Ag/AgCl which falls within the electrochemical stability window of conventional electrolyte solutions. LiMnPO₄ has safety features due to the presence of a strong P–O covalent bond. The LiMnPO₄ nanoparticles were synthesized via a sol-gel method followed by coating with gold nanoparticles to enhance conductivity. A magnesium oxide (MgO) nanowire was then coated onto the LiMnPO₄/Au, in order to form a support for gold nanoparticles which will then form a thin film on top of LiMnPO₄ nanoparticles crystals. The formed products will be LiMnPO₄/Mg-Au composite. MgO has good electrical and thermal conductivity with improved corrosion resistance. Thus the electronic and optical properties of MgO nanowires were sufficient for the increase in the lithium ion diffusion. The pristine LiMnPO₄ and LiMnPO₄/Mg-Au composite were examined using a combination of spectroscopic and microscopic techniques along with cyclic voltammetry (CV) and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). Microscopic results revealed that the LiMnPO₄/Mg-Au composite contains well crystallized particles and regular morphological structures with narrow size distributions. The composite cathode exhibits better reversibility and kinetics than the pristine LiMnPO₄ due to the presence of the conductive additives in the LiMnPO₄/Mg-Au composite. This is demonstrated in the values of the diffusion coefficient (D) and the values of charge and discharge capacities determined through cyclic voltammetry. For the composite cathode, D= 2.0 x 10⁻⁹ cm²/s while for pristine LiMnPO₄ D = 4.81 x 10⁻¹⁰ cm2/s. The charge capacity and the discharge capacity for LiMnPO₄/Mg-Au composite were 259.9 mAh/g and 157.6 mAh/g, respectively, at 10 mV/s. The corresponding values for pristine LiMnPO₄ were 115 mAh/g and 44.75 mAh/g, respectively. A similar trend was observed in the results obtained from EIS measurements. These results indicate that LiMnPO₄/Mg-Au composite has better conductivity and will facilitate faster electron transfer and therefore better electrochemical performance than pristine LiMnPO₄. The composite cathode material (LiMnPO₄/Mg-Au) with improved electronic conductivity holds great promise for enhancing electrochemical performances, discharge capacity, cycle performance and the suppression of the reductive decomposition of the electrolyte solution on the LiMnPO₄ surface. This study proposes an easy to scale-up and cost-effective technique for producing novel high-performance nanostructured LiMnPO₄ nanopowder cathode material.