Substitutional disorder: structure and ion dynamics of the argyrodites Li6PS5Cl, Li6PS5Br and Li6PS5I
For the development of safe and long-lasting lithium-ion batteries we need electrolytes with excellent ionic transport properties. Argyrodite-type Li6PS5X (X: Cl, Br, I) belongs to a family of such a class of materials offering ionic conductivities, at least if Li6PS5Br and Li6PS5Cl are considered, in the mS cm−1 range at room temperature. Although already tested as ceramic electrolytes in battery cells, a comprehensive picture about the ion dynamics is still missing. While Li6PS5Br and Li6PS5Cl show an exceptionally high Li ion conductivity, that of Li6PS5I with its polarizable I anions is by some orders of magnitude lower. This astonishing effect has not been satisfactorily understood so far. Studying the ion dynamics over a broad time and length scale is expected to help shed light on this aspect. Here, we used broadband impedance spectroscopy and 7Li NMR relaxation measurements and show that very fast local Li ion exchange processes are taking place in all three compounds. Most importantly, the diffusion-induced NMR spin–lattice relaxation in Li6PS5I is almost identical to that of its relatives. Considering the substitutional disorder effects in Li6PS5X (X = Br, Cl), we conclude that in structurally ordered Li6PS5I the important inter-cage jump processes are switched off, hindering the ions from taking part in long-range ion transport.