Na2M2(SO4)3 (M = Fe, Mn, Co and Ni): towards high-voltage sodium battery applications
Sodium-ion-based batteries have evolved as excellent alternatives to their lithium-ion-based counterparts due to the abundance, uniform geographical distribution and low price of Na resources. In the pursuit of sodium chemistry, recently the alluaudite framework Na2M2(SO4)3 has been unveiled as a high-voltage sodium insertion system. In this context, the framework of density functional theory has been applied to systematically investigate the crystal structure evolution, density of states and charge transfer with sodium ions insertion, and the corresponding average redox potential, for Na2M2(SO4)3 (M = Fe, Mn, Co and Ni). It is shown that full removal of sodium atoms from the Fe-based device is not a favorable process due to the 8% volume shrinkage. The imaginary frequencies obtained in the phonon dispersion also reflect this instability and the possible phase transition. This high volume change has not been observed in the cases of the Co- and Ni-based compounds. This is because the redox reaction assumes a different mechanism for each of the compounds investigated. For the polyanion with Fe, the removal of sodium ions induces a charge reorganization at the Fe centers. For the Mn case, the redox process induces a charge reorganization of the Mn centers with a small participation of the oxygen atoms. The Co and Ni compounds present a distinct trend with the redox reaction occurring with a strong participation of the oxygen sublattice, resulting in a very small volume change upon desodiation. Moreover, the average deintercalation potential for each of the compounds has been computed. The implications of our findings have been discussed both from the scientific perspective and in terms of technological aspects.