American Chemical Society
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Structural Insight into Protective Alumina Coatings for Layered Li-Ion Cathode Materials by Solid-State NMR Spectroscopy

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-02-02, 19:33 authored by Abby R. Haworth, Beth I. J. Johnston, Laura Wheatcroft, Sarah L. McKinney, Nuria Tapia-Ruiz, Sam G. Booth, Alisyn J. Nedoma, Serena A. Cussen, John M. Griffin
Layered transition metal oxide cathode materials can exhibit high energy densities in Li-ion batteries, in particular, those with high Ni contents such as LiNiO2. However, the stability of these Ni-rich materials often decreases with increased nickel content, leading to capacity fade and a decrease in the resulting electrochemical performance. Thin alumina coatings have the potential to improve the longevity of LiNiO2 cathodes by providing a protective interface to stabilize the cathode surface. The structures of alumina coatings and the chemistry of the coating–cathode interface are not fully understood and remain the subject of investigation. Greater structural understanding could help to minimize excess coating, maximize conductive pathways, and maintain high capacity and rate capability while improving capacity retention. Here, solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, paired with powder X-ray diffraction and electron microscopy, is used to provide insight into the structures of the Al2O3 coatings on LiNiO2. To do this, we performed a systematic study as a function of coating thickness and used LiCoO2, a diamagnetic model, and the material of interest, LiNiO2. 27Al magic-angle spinning (MAS) NMR spectra acquired for thick 10 wt % coatings on LiCoO2 and LiNiO2 suggest that in both cases, the coatings consist of disordered four- and six-coordinate Al–O environments. However, 27Al MAS NMR spectra acquired for thinner 0.2 wt % coatings on LiCoO2 identify additional phases believed to be LiCo1–xAlxO2 and LiAlO2 at the coating–cathode interface. 6,7Li MAS NMR and T1 measurements suggest that similar mixing takes place near the interface for Al2O3 on LiNiO2. Furthermore, reproducibility studies have been undertaken to investigate the effect of the coating method on the local structure, as well as the role of the substrate.