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Enhanced Li-ion diffusion and electrochemical performance in strained-manganese–iron oxide core–shell nanoparticles

Anuj Bhargava, Yuval Elbaz, Quynh Sam, Michelle A. Smeaton, , ,
Published: 14 October 2021

Abstract: Efforts to improve energy storage depend greatly on the development of efficient electrode materials. Recently, strain has been employed as an alternate approach to improve ion mobility. While lattice strain has been well-researched in catalytic applications, its effects on electrochemical energy storage are largely limited to computational studies due to complexities associated with strain control in nanomaterials as well as loss of strain due to the phase change of the active material during charging–discharging. In this work, we overcome these challenges and investigate the effects of strain on supercapacitor performance in Li-ion-based energy devices. We synthesize epitaxial [email protected] ([email protected]) nanoparticles with varying shell thickness to control the lattice strain. A narrow voltage window for electrochemical testing is used to limit the storage mechanism to lithiation–delithiation, preventing a phase change and maintaining structural strain. Cyclic voltammetry reveals a pseudocapacitive behavior and similar levels of surface charge storage in both strained- and unstrained-MnFe2O4 samples; however, diffusive charge storage in the strained sample is twice as high as the unstrained sample. The strained-MnFe2O4 electrode exceeds the performance of the unstrained-MnFe2O4 electrode in energy density by ∼33%, power density by ∼28%, and specific capacitance by ∼48%. Density functional theory shows lower formation energies for Li-intercalation and lower activation barrier for Li-diffusion in strained-MnFe2O4, corresponding to a threefold increase in the diffusion coefficient. The enhanced Li-ion diffusion rate in the strained-electrodes is further confirmed using the galvanostatic intermittent titration technique. This work provides a starting point to using strain engineering as a novel approach for designing high performance energy storage devices.
Keywords: performance energy / Enhanced Li ion / Li ion diffusion / lattice strain / functional / structural

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