The doping effect on the catalytic activity of graphene for oxygen evolution reaction in a lithium–air battery: a first-principles study†
A lithium–air battery as an energy storage technology can be used in electric vehicles due to its large energy density. However, its poor rate capability, low power density and large overpotential problems limit its practical usage. In this paper, the first-principles thermodynamic calculations were performed to study the catalytic activity of X-doped graphene (X = B, N, Al, Si, and P) materials as potential cathodes to enhance charge reactions in a lithium–air battery. Among these materials, P-doped graphene exhibits the highest catalytic activity in reducing the charge voltage by 0.25 V, while B-doped graphene has the highest catalytic activity in decreasing the oxygen evolution barrier by 0.12 eV. By combining these two catalytic effects, B,P-codoped graphene was demonstrated to have an enhanced catalytic activity in reducing the O2 evolution barrier by 0.70 eV and the charge voltage by 0.13 V. B-doped graphene interacts with Li2O2 by Li-sited adsorption in which the electron-withdrawing center can enhance charge transfer from Li2O2 to the substrate, facilitating reduction of O2 evolution barrier. In contrast, X-doped graphene (X = N, Al, Si, and P) prefers O-sited adsorption toward Li2O2, forming a X–O22−⋯Li+ interface structure between X–O22− and the rich Li+ layer. The active structure of X–O22− can weaken the surrounding Li–O2 bonds and significantly reduce Li+ desorption energy at the interface. Our investigation is helpful in developing a novel catalyst to enhance oxygen evolution reaction (OER) in Li–air batteries.