Understanding Ionic Diffusion through SEI Components for Lithium-Ion and Sodium-Ion Batteries: Insights from First-Principles Calculations
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Copyright 2018 American Chemical Society. The insufficient understanding of the physical and chemical phenomena taking place at the electrode-electrolyte interface is the main roadblock for improvement of current battery technologies and development of new ones. Of particular interest is the solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI) layer because many aspects of the battery performance depend on its quality. Recently we have shown that a stable SEI layer can be designed in specific Li- or Na-based electrolytes. In this paper, we continue exploring this concept by identifying the interactions that take place at the lithiated (or sodiated) carbon-electrolyte interface and discussing the transport mechanisms of Li and Na ions through the most commonly found SEI layer inorganic components. For the ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) simulations, we considered the case of the sodiated hard carbon structure. The simulations show the decomposition of ethylene carbonate on the edge of the graphite layers leading to products such as CO and other organic fragments. The decomposition of the PF6- anion is a precursor step for the formation of NaF layers. Regarding the Li- and Na-ion transport through the SEI, the results show that the energy to create defects is lowest when Li ions are guests at an interstitial position in NaF and lattice positions in Na2CO3. For the LiF and Li2CO3 crystals, the energy to create defects is lowest when Na ions substitute Li. This lower energy cost for Li-ion defects in Na-based components is due to the smaller size of the Li ion when compared to the Na ion. Regarding diffusion barriers, the Na ions in Li-based SEI components show a preference for the vacancy diffusion and knock-off mechanisms as the preferred pathways to migrate through the SEI while Li ions in Na-based SEI components prefer a mechanism involving the migration of the interstitial ion through the knock-off or direct hopping mechanism. This work also emphasizes the interplay between the crystallographic orientation of the SEI components and the direction dependent ion migration guiding the controlled design of efficient artificial SEI layers.