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A charge-density-based general cation insertion algorithm for generating new Li-ion cathode materials


Future lithium (Li) energy storage technologies, in particular solid-state configurations with a Li metal anode, opens up the possibility of using cathode materials that do not necessarily contain Li in its as-made state. To accelerate the discovery and design of such materials, we develop a general, chemically, and structurally agnostic methodology for identifying the optimal Li sites in any crystalline material. For a given crystal structure, we attempt multiple Li insertions at symmetrically in-equivalent positions by analyzing the electronic charge density obtained from first-principles density functional theory. In this report, we demonstrate the effectiveness of this procedure in successfully identifying the positions of the Li ion in well-known cathode materials using only the empty host (charged) material as guidance. Furthermore, applying the algorithm to over 2000 candidate cathode empty host materials we obtain statistics of Li site preferences to guide future developments of novel Li-ion cathode materials, particularly for solid-state applications.

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