Effects of proton irradiation on structural and electrochemical charge storage properties of TiO2 nanotube electrodes for lithium-ion batteries
The effects of proton irradiation on nanostructured metal oxides have been investigated. Recent studies suggest that the presence of structural defects (e.g. vacancies and interstitials) in metal oxides may enhance the material's electrochemical charge storage capacity. A new approach to introduce defects in electrode materials is to use ion irradiation as it can produce a supersaturation of point defects in the target material. In this work we report the effect of low-energy proton irradiation on amorphous TiO2 nanotube electrodes at both room temperature and high temperature (250 °C). Upon room temperature irradiation the nanotubes demonstrate an irradiation-induced phase transformation to a mixture of amorphous, anatase, and rutile domains while showing a 35% reduction in capacity compared to anatase TiO2. On the other hand, the high temperature proton irradiation induced a disordered rutile phase within the nanotubes as characterized by Raman spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy, which displays an improved capacity by 20% at ∼240 mA h g−1 as well as improved rate capability compared to an unirradiated anatase sample. Voltammetric sweep data were used to determine the contributions from diffusion-limited intercalation and capacitive processes and it was found that the electrodes after irradiation had more contributions from diffusion in lithium charge storage. Our work suggests that tailoring the defect generation through ion irradiation within metal oxide electrodes could present a new avenue for designing advanced electrode materials.