Atomic to Nanoscale Investigation of Functionalities of an Al2O3 Coating Layer on a Cathode for Enhanced Battery Performance
journal contributionposted on 2016-02-09, 00:00 authored by Pengfei Yan, Jianming Zheng, Xiaofeng Zhang, Rui Xu, Khalil Amine, Jie Xiao, Ji-Guang Zhang, Chong-Min Wang
Surface coating has been identified as an effective approach for enhancing the capacity retention of layered structure cathode. However, the underlying operating mechanism of such a thin coating layer, in terms of surface chemical functionality and capacity retention, remains unclear. In this work, we use aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy and high-efficiency spectroscopy to probe the delicate functioning mechanism of an Al2O3 coating layer on a Li1.2Ni0.2Mn0.6O2 cathode. We discovered that in terms of surface chemical function, the Al2O3 coating suppresses the side reaction between the cathode and the electrolyte during battery cycling. At the same time, the Al2O3 coating layer also eliminates the chemical reduction of Mn from the cathode particle surface, therefore preventing the dissolution of the reduced Mn into the electrolyte. In terms of structural stability, we found that the Al2O3 coating layer can mitigate the layer to spinel phase transformation, which otherwise will be initiated from the particle surface and propagate toward the interior of the particle with the progression of battery cycling. The atomic to nanoscale effects of the coating layer observed here provide insight into the optimized design of a coating layer on a cathode to enhance the battery properties.