Evaluation of the constant potential method in simulating electric double-layer capacitors

ZX Wang and Y Yang and DL Olmsted and M Asta and BB Laird, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 141, 184102 (2014).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4899176

A major challenge in the molecular simulation of electric double layer capacitors (EDLCs) is the choice of an appropriate model for the electrode. Typically, in such simulations the electrode surface is modeled using a uniform fixed charge on each of the electrode atoms, which ignores the electrode response to local charge fluctuations in the electrolyte solution. In this work, we evaluate and compare this Fixed Charge Method (FCM) with the more realistic Constant Potential Method (CPM), S. K. Reed et al., J. Chem. Phys. 126, 084704 (2007), in which the electrode charges fluctuate in order to maintain constant electric potential in each electrode. For this comparison, we utilize a simplified LiClO4-acetonitrile/graphite EDLC. At low potential difference (Delta Psi <= 2 V), the two methods yield essentially identical results for ion and solvent density profiles; however, significant differences appear at higher Delta Psi. At Delta Psi >= 4 V, the CPM ion density profiles show significant enhancement (over FCM) of "inner-sphere adsorbed" Li+ ions very close to the electrode surface. The ability of the CPM electrode to respond to local charge fluctuations in the electrolyte is seen to significantly lower the energy (and barrier) for the approach of Li+ ions to the electrode surface. (C) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.

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