Understanding the effects of surface reconstruction on the electrochemical cycling performance of the spinel LiNi0.5Mn1.5O4 cathode material at elevated temperatures†
Detailed investigation of the influence of surface modification using a typical oxide (TiO2) on the electrochemical cycling performance of LiNi0.5Mn1.5O4 at room temperature (25 °C) and elevated temperature (55 °C) is reported. This spinel cathode material is commonly surface-modified with various metal oxides to improve its electrochemical cycling performance in lithium ion batteries. However, the underlying mechanisms of such a treatment, with respect to the surface crystal structure and chemistry evolution, have remained unclear. Bare-LiNi0.5Mn1.5O4 and TiO2-modified LiNi0.5Mn1.5O4 both show excellent cycling performance, i.e. almost no capacity retention and ∼99% coulombic efficiency for 150 cycles, at room temperature. However, at 55 °C the latter shows significantly better electrochemical cycling performance, with 93% capacity retention and ∼96% coulombic efficiency for 100 cycles, than the former with 70% capacity retention and ∼93% coulombic efficiency. Via advanced electron microscopy techniques, we observed that titanium ions migrated into the surface region of LiNi0.5Mn1.5O4 during the surface modification process at high temperature and reconstructed the (1–3 nm) surface spinel structure into a rocksalt-like structure and the subsurface (several nanometers) into a pseudo-rocksalt-like structure. The reconstruction of the surface and subsurface of the LiNi0.5Mn1.5O4 spinel cathode material mitigates not only the migration of Mn ions from the bulk into the electrolyte but also the formation of a solid state electrolyte interface, which plays a critical role in the improvement of electrochemical cycling performance at elevated temperatures.