Electronic density distribution of Mn–N bonds by a tuning effect through partial replacement of Mn by Co or Ni in a sodium-rich hexacyanoferrate and its influence on the stability as a cathode for Na-ion batteries
This study evaluates the effect of equimolar substitution of manganese by cobalt or nickel in hexacyanoferrate (HCF) open frameworks as electrode materials for Na-ion batteries. As the stability of Mn–N bonds is crucial to obtain long term stability and cyclability of manganese (Mn–HCF), the samples were analyzed thoroughly using several spectroscopic and structural methods. The XPS and infrared experiments reveal that the charge density around Fe is modulated by the presence of Co or Ni, which is associated with their high polarizing power, leading to decreased cell distortion as revealed by XRD. The Rietveld refinement demonstrated that the octahedra built by 3d metals and the cyanide nitrogen were distorted with the axial bond distances being larger than the equatorial distances. This octahedral distortion promotes the spin behavior of 3/2 for Mn2+ confirmed by magnetic experiments; the arising of this spin state is attributed to d orbital splitting determined by UV-Vis experiments. Therefore, the changes upon Mn substitution are related to the modification of the covalent character of Mn–N bonds, modulated by the effect of the Ni and Co polarizing power. All these properties improve the electrochemical stability of the Ni or Co substituted materials as Na-ion batteries, leading to higher capacity retention even at higher C-rates (5C) and good capacity recovery, in comparison with those obtained for Mn–HCF.