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Mechanism of Phase Propagation During Lithiation in Carbon-Free Li4Ti5O12 Battery Electrodes

Authors

  • Chunjoong Kim,

    1. Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
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  • Nick S. Norberg,

    1. Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
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  • Caleb T. Alexander,

    1. Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
    2. College of Chemistry, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
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  • Robert Kostecki,

    1. Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
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  • Jordi Cabana

    Corresponding author
    1. Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
    • Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
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Abstract

Functional electrodes for batteries share a common design rule by which high electronic and ionic conductivity pathways must exist throughout the electrode in its pristine state. Notable amounts of conductive carbon additive in the composite electrode are usually included to form an electronically conductive matrix. However, excellent high rate cycling performance has been achieved in electrodes composed of the insulating Li4Ti5O12 without any conductive additives. This behavior opens the possibility of a new paradigm for designing functional electrodes by which high electronic conductivity in the pristine electrode is not required. The mechanism of operation that enables such unexpected electrochemical behavior is evaluated and discussed. Electronically conductive pathways due to the reduction of Ti4+ to Ti3+ form and percolate throughout the Li4Ti5O12 electrode in the early stage of Li insertion, eliminating the need for conductive additives. This work highlights the importance of the mass and charge transport properties of the intermediate states during cycling and of good interparticle ohmic contact in the electrode. This physical behavior can lead to novel system designs with improved battery utilization and energy density.

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