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Nano Lett. 2014 Mar 12;14(3):1484-91. doi: 10.1021/nl404679t. Epub 2014 Feb 26.

Extended solid solutions and coherent transformations in nanoscale olivine cathodes.

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Department of Material Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology , 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, United States.


Nanoparticle LiFePO4, the basis for an entire class of high power Li-ion batteries, has recently been shown to exist in binary lithiated/delithiated states at intermediate states of charge. The Mn-bearing version, LiMn(y)Fe(1-y)PO4, exhibits even higher rate capability as a lithium battery cathode than LiFePO4 of comparable particle size. To gain insight into the cause(s) of this desirable performance, the electrochemically driven phase transformation during battery charge and discharge of nanoscale LiMn0.4Fe0.6PO4 of three different average particle sizes, 52, 106, and 152 nm, is investigated by operando synchrotron radiation powder X-ray diffraction. In stark contrast to the binary lithiation states of pure LiFePO4 revealed in recent investigations, the formations of metastable solid solutions covering a remarkable wide compositional range, including while in two-phase coexistence, are observed. Detailed analysis correlates this behavior with small elastic misfits between phases compared to either pure LiFePO4 or LiMnPO4. On the basis of time- and state-of-charge dependence of the olivine structure parameters, we propose a coherent transformation mechanism. These findings illustrate a second, completely different phase transformation mode for pure well-ordered nanoscale olivines compared to the well-studied case of LiFePO4.


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