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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Lithium-free transition metal monoxides for positive electrodes in lithium-ion batteries

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Lithium-ion batteries based on intercalation compounds have dominated the advanced portable energy storage market. The positive electrode materials in these batteries belong to a material group of lithium-conducting crystals that contain redox-active transition metal and lithium. Materials without lithium-conducting paths or lithium-free compounds could be rarely used as positive electrodes due to the incapability of reversible lithium intercalation or the necessity of using metallic lithium as negative electrodes. These constraints have significantly limited the choice of materials and retarded the development of new positive electrodes in lithium-ion batteries. Here, we demonstrate that lithium-free transition metal monoxides that do not contain lithium-conducting paths in their crystal structure can be converted into high-capacity positive electrodes in the electrochemical cell by initially decorating the monoxide surface with nanosized lithium fluoride. This unusual electrochemical behaviour is attributed to a surface conversion reaction mechanism in contrast with the classic lithium intercalation reaction. Our findings will offer a potential new path in the design of positive electrode materials in lithium-ion batteries.

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