Low-temperature synthesis and electrochemical properties of aliovalently-doped phosphates and spinel oxides



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Lithium-ion batteries are being intensely pursued as energy storage devices because they provide higher energy and power densities compared to other battery systems such as lead-acid and nickel-metal hydride batteries. This dissertation (i) explores the use of a low-temperature microwave-assisted synthesis process to obtain aliovalently-doped lithium transition-metal phosphates and lower-valent vanadium oxide spinels, some of which are difficult to obtain by conventional high-temperature processes, and (ii) presents an investigation of the electrochemical properties of the aliovantly-doped phosphate cathodes and doped lithium manganese oxide and oxyfluoride spinel cathodes in lithium-ion batteries. Following the introduction and general experimental procedures, respectively, in Chapters 1 and 2, Chapter 3 first focuses on understanding of how the inductive effect and structural features in lithium transition-metal borate, silicate, and phosphate cathodes affect the M²⁺ʹ³⁺redox energies. It is found that the magnitude of the voltages delivered by the polyanion cathodes can be predicted based simply on the coordination of the transition-metal ion. Furthermore, the differences in the voltages delivered by the phosphates and pyrophosphates are explained by considering the resonance structures and their contribution to the covalency of the polyanion. Chapter 4 presents a low-temperature microwave-assisted solvothermal process to substitute 20 atom % V³⁺ for Mn²⁺ in LiMnPO₄. It is shown that the solubility of vanadium in LiMnPO₄ decreases upon heating the doped samples to ≥ 575 °C, demonstrating the importance of employing a low-temperature process to achieve aliovalent doping in LiMnPO₄. It is further demonstrated that by increasing the vanadium content in the material, the discharge capacity in the first cycle could be increased without any additional carbon coating. Subsequent X-ray absorption spectroscopy data reveal that the better performance is facilitated by enhanced Mn-O hybridization upon incorporating vanadium into the lattice. Chapter 5 explores the influence of various factors, such as the oxidation state of Mn, electronegativity of the dopant cation Mn+, and the dissociation energy of M-O bond, on the electrochemical properties of cation-doped oxide and oxyfluoride spinel cathodes. As an extension, Chapter 6 presents the effect of processing conditions on the surface concentration of the dopant cation Mn+. Chapter 7 presents an extension of the low-temperature microwave-assisted synthesis process to obtain AV₂O₄ (Mg, Fe, Mn, and Co) spinel oxides. The method is remarkably effective in reducing the synthesis time and energy use due to the efficiency of dielectric heating compared to conventional heating. The ability to access V³⁺ is facilitated by the relative positions of the energy levels of the cations in solution, which is lower than that in the solid, and the use of a strong reducing solvent like TEG. Finally, Chapter 8 provides a summary of the salient findings in this dissertation.