Molecular dynamics simulation of a LixMn2O4 spinel cathode material in Li-ion batteries

A Asadi and SF Aghamiri and MR Talaie, RSC ADVANCES, 6, 115354-115363 (2016).

DOI: 10.1039/c6ra13878k

In this study molecular dynamics simulations and a particle-level mathematical model were used to study the state of charge (SOC) dependent mechanical properties such as yield stress, ultimate stress and Young's modulus of lithium manganese oxide as a cathode material in Li-ion batteries during electrochemical cycling. The molecular model was applied on a unit cell of LiMn2O4, containing 56 ions (8 lithium ions, 8 trivalent manganese ions, 8 tetravalent manganese ions and 32 oxygen atoms) that was replicated in 2 x 2 x 2 cubic structure. The volume changes of LixMn(2)O(4) was investigated as a function of the SOC (0 < x < 1). MD simulations indicated that the lattice volume of LixMn(2)O(4) varied by 6.87% in one half cycle. This large volume change was attributed to lithium compositional changes during electrochemical cycling. MD simulations showed that at low SOC values LixMn(2)O(4) behaves as a brittle material and at high SOC values behaves as a ductile material. Furthermore, due to the existence of two phase of LixMn(2)O(4) in the range of low SOC values, we observed that the elastic properties increase as the SOC decreases from 0.375 to 0. By employing visualization techniques it was clear that the LiMn2O4 fracture process is initiated by void formation in a nearby material's surface and consequently leads to surface fracture. Using long MD simulations, mean square displacement (MSD) calculations indicated that there are three different regimes in the MSD curves: ballistic, caging and diffusive. Also the SOC-dependent Li ion diffusion coefficients were investigated and revealed that due to the greater availability of vacant sites at low SOC values the Li ion diffusion coefficient is higher than at high SOC values.

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