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USA: U.S. Patents Awarded to Inventors in Illinois

BACKGROUND
Rechargeable lithium battery technology has become an important source in providing new, lightweight and high energy density batteries for many applications growing with the electronic industry. These batteries have gained increased attention because of their possible utilization for high power applications such as hybrid electric vehicles. The Li.sub.xC.sub.6/Li.sub.1-xCoO.sub.2 cell is widely commercialized, and is also the best known lithium ion battery cell chemistry in which Li.sub.1-xCoO.sub.2 plays the role of the cathode or positive electrode while Li.sub.xC.sub.6 acts as the anode or negative electrode. Theoretically during the charge, lithium ions can be extracted from the layered structure of LiCoO.sub.2 and then inserted into the carbonaceous structure, leading to the formation of CoO.sub.2 and Li.sub.6C the hypothetical phases. At the top of the charge, highly lithiated carbon or graphite is a very reactive material, particularly in the case of cells made of cathodes containing nickel and flammable organic electrolytes. Therefore, there is a major concern to address the issue of the safety of the cells which leads to introducing Li.sub.4Ti.sub.5O.sub.12 as an alternative to carbon.

Li.sub.4Ti.sub.5O.sub.12 has a spinel structure and can be written as Li.sub.8a[Ti.sub.1.67Li.sub.0.33].sub.16dO.sub.4. Lithium is inserted into the structure, and then the rock-salt phase [Li.sub.2].sub.16c[Ti.sub.1.67Li.sub.0.33].sub.16dO.sub.4 is generated. Hence, a two-phase reaction provides a constant voltage at 1.5V versus lithium metal. A major disadvantage of a Li.sub.4Ti.sub.5O.sub.12 electrode is its insulating character because it has poor electronic and ionic conductivities, which seriously limit its utilization for high rates application as a preferred anode. As a solution, several attempts of doping this material with materials such as Mg.sup.2+, Al.sup.3+ have been reported in order to improve its electronic conductivity.

SUMMARY

To address this issue, this invention presents for the first time M.sup.11Li.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 (M=Sr, Ba and those of the strontium metal series) as a new generation of non carbonaceous anode material with an original type structure.

Only two materials have been reported in strontium lithium titanium oxide phases. SrTiO.sub.3, in which Li.sup.+ is partially substituted for Ti.sup.4+ (SrTi.sub.0.9Li.sub.0.1O.sub.3-x), is a selective catalyst for oxidative dehydrogenation of lower alkanes. Sr.sub.0.4Li.sub.0.6Ti.sub.2O.sub.4 has also been developed as a superconductor oxide. Recently, SrO–TiO.sub.2–LiBO.sub.2 has been studied in a ternary system to determine the concentration and temperature range of spontaneous crystallization of SrTiO.sub.3. By accident, an unknown phase was found which later was attributed to a new SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 phase. The structure of SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 is very attractive and presents a lot of cavities which could allow rapid lithium ion diffusion within the host. SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 is therefore expected to be a very good ionic conductor, although it should be electronically an insulating material because all the titanium ions are tetravalent, during the first charge Ti.sup.4+ is reduced to Ti.sup.3+ which leads to a mixed-valent electronically conducting SrLi.sub.2+xTi.sub.6O.sub.14. For these reasons, this material is expected to be a very promising non carbonaceous anode materials for lithium ion battery applications that need high capabilities and enhanced safety.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a plot showing the X-ray pattern of SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 made at 950.degree. C.;

FIG. 2 shows the structure of SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14;

FIG. 3 is a plot showing the voltage profile of a Li/SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 cell for the first 35 cycles;

FIG. 4 is a plot showing the area-specific impedance (ASI) as function as state of charge for a Li/SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 cell (open circles) and a Li.sub.4Ti.sub.5O.sub.12 cell (filled in triangles);

FIG. 5 is a plot showing the delivered charge capacity (mAh/g) of a Li/SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 cell;

FIG. 6 is a plot showing the delivered discharge capacity (mAh/g) of a Li/SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 cell;

FIG. 7 is a plot showing the voltage profile of a Li(Ni.sub.1/3Co.sub.1/3Mn.sub.1/3)O.sub.2/SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 cell;

FIG. 8 is a plot showing the delivered discharge capacity (mAh/g) of a Li(Ni.sub.1/3Co.sub.1/3Mn.sub.1/3)O.sub.2/SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 cell (C/5 rate.);

FIG. 9 is a plot showing the area-specific impedance (ASI) as a function as state of charge of a Li(Ni.sub.1/3Co.sub.1/3Mn.sub.1/3)O.sub.2/SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 cell;

FIG. 10 is a plot showing the voltage profile of a LiNi.sub.0.5Mn.sub.1.5O.sub.4/SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 cell; and

FIG. 11 is a plot showing the delivered discharge capacity (mAh/g) of a LiNi.sub.0.5Mn.sub.1.5O.sub.4/SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 cell.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Compositions of matter, articles of manufacture and methods for manufacture are set forth herein for preparation of battery electrodes and a non-aqueous lithium ion battery.

To that end, MLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 (M=Sr, Ba) ceramics have been prepared by solid state reaction, starting from a mixture of strontium carbonate SrCO.sub.3 or barium carbonate BaCO.sub.3, lithium carbonate Li.sub.2CO.sub.3 and titanium (IV) oxide TiO.sub.2 anatase. The mixture was heated at 5.degree. C./min up to 800.degree. C. to allow a complete decomposition of the carbonates with evolution of CO.sub.2. After grinding, the powder was sintered at 950.degree. C. for 24 h. The resulting white polycrystalline powder was examined by X-ray diffraction to check purity of the obtained phase, as shown in FIG. 2.

The positive electrode was prepared by mixing MLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 (M=Sr, Ba) with 10 wt % carbon SP and 10 wt % PVdF binder in NMP solvent. The resulting paste was spread on copper foil. The electrolyte was 1M LiPF.sub.6 in (1:1) ethylene carbonate (EC) and diethyl carbonate (DEC) solvents. The cells were assembled inside a helium-filled dry-box and were evaluated using coin-type cells (CR2032: 1.6 cm.sup.2). The charge/discharge measurements were carried out between 0.5 and 2V potential range under 0.2 mA/cm.sup.2 current density.

Description of Preferred SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 Structure

SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 belongs to the SrO–Li.sub.2O–TiO.sub.2 ternary system. The unit cell is orthorhombic (Space group: Cmca, Z=8 L) with the following crystalline parameters: a=16.570, b=11.15 and c=11.458 .ANG.. The structure of SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 is built by edge and corner sharing [TiO.sub.6] octahedra which form layers parallel to (100) plane. The consecutive layers are linked by sharing common corners along the a axis. The details of this unique structure are shown in FIG. 1.

Titanium Environment

A titanium atom is located preferably at a six fold oxygenated site in four different crystallographic positions. Ti(1) and Ti(2) octahedra share common edges which form [AX.sub.4] chains running along c direction. The remaining Ti(3) and Ti(4) octahedra are bounded by a common edge forming [A.sub.2X.sub.7] group which shares common corners with similar group forming a layer along (100) plane. The parallel [AX4] chains containing Ti(1) and Ti(2) octahedra are situated between [A.sub.2X.sub.7] layers and are linked to each others by common corners.

Lithium Environment

The lithium atom is preferably located in a tetrahedral oxygenated site sharing two oxygen atoms with [Ti(1),Ti(2)] titanium chain and two others with [Ti(3),Ti(4)] titanium layer. As it can be seen in FIG. 1, lithium atoms are isolated from each others and occupy tunnels within [TiO.sub.6] framework along the c direction.

Strontium Environment

The strontium atoms are situated in between every three consecutive [TiO.sub.6] chains and layers. They are coordinated to eleven oxygen atoms which form polyhedrons of triply capped distorted cube (FIG. 2).

Electrochemical Data of SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14

FIG. 3 shows the voltage profile of a Li/SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 cell. Four lithium ions are insertable into SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 leading to SrLi.sub.6Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 according to the following general reaction: 4Li+SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14SrLi.sub.6Ti.sub.6O.sub.14

According to this reaction, SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 provides a total theoretical capacity of 175 mAh/g.

FIG. 4 shows the areas specific impedance (ASI) of the Li/SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 cell. The ASI of this material is around 60.OMEGA.cm.sup.2 which is much lower than that of Li.sub.4Ti.sub.5O.sub.12, which is around 150.OMEGA.cm.sup.2. As a result, the SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 should exhibit much better rate performance as well as sustainable cycling characteristics than Li.sub.4Ti.sub.5O.sub.12. For the subsequent cycles, the capacity is much more stable and reaches 140 mAh/g constantly up to 35 cycles under C/5 rate.

To establish the electrochemical behavior of SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 anode material in reel cell chemistry, cells with two cathodes were chosen to be built: Li(Ni.sub.1/3Co.sub.1/3Mn.sub.1/3)O.sub.2 layered oxide and LiNi.sub.0.5Mn.sub.1.5O.sub.2 spinel material.

Electrochemical Data of Li(Ni.sub.1/3Co.sub.1/3Mn.sub.1/3)O.sub.2/SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 Cell

Li(Ni.sub.1/3Co.sub.1/3Mn.sub.1/3)O.sub.2 belongs to the list of layered oxide materials having an .alpha.–NaFeO.sub.2 structure type. This cathode has certain specificities which make it a very promising cathode for many battery applications. The predominant oxidation states of Ni, Co and Mn in the compound are 2.sup.+, 3.sup.+ and 4.sup.+ respectively, which means that the capacity of 150 mAh/g delivered in the range 3-4.3V is mostly arising from the oxidation of Ni.sup.2+ to Ni.sup.3+, with a limited Ni.sup.4+ generation at that cutoff voltage. During the charge/discharge process, Mn.sup.4+ ions are intact, leading to the cohesion and the stability of the structure because of the strong covalency of Mn–O bonds. Furthermore, a LiNi.sup.2+/3+.sub.1/3Co.sup.3+.sub.1/3Mn.sup.4+.sub.1/3O.sub.2 configuration is very suitable for Li-ion batteries since there is no generation of highly oxidizing and unstable Ni.sup.4+ ions, which play a major role in the mechanism of failure of the battery.

FIG. 7 shows the voltage profile between a 2 and 4.1 V voltage range of a cell made of Li(Ni.sub.1/3Co.sub.1/3Mn.sub.1/3)O.sub.2 as a positive electrode and SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 as a negative electrode. The cell delivers a specific discharge capacity of 150 mAh/g at a C/5 rate. This capacity is not affected during subsequent cycle as seen in FIG. 8.

FIG. 9 represents the area specific impedance (ASI) of a cell built with Li(Ni.sub.1/3Co.sub.1/3Mn.sub.1/3)O.sub.2/SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14. These very low ASI values meet the preferred requirement established for a high power application such as hybrid electric vehicle.

Electrochemical Data of LiNi.sub.0.5Mn.sub.1.5O.sub.4/SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 Cell

LiMn.sub.2O.sub.4 is a well known spinel cathode which has been widely studied for high energy battery application. The practical 100 mAh/g of this cathode is achieved at 4.3 V cutoff voltage. However, LiMn.sub.2O.sub.4 base cell chemistry encounters many problems that affect the cycle and the calendar life of the battery, such as the manganese dissolution during the charge/discharge processes. LiNi.sub.0.5Mn.sub.1.5O.sub.4 oxide formulation is an exception among the spinel family designated for the battery technology. The electrochemical reaction occurs at high voltage as to give raise to a flat plateau at 4.7 V. At the top of the charge, the material is able to deliver up to 140 mAh/g.

To improve the electronic conductivity of SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 and hence its electrochemical performances, many methods could be employed. For example, this could be accomplished by the partial reduction of Ti.sup.4+ cations to Ti.sup.3+ cations by various mechanisms, including the preparation under reduced atmospheres such as H.sub.2, H.sub.2/N.sub.2, CO.sub.2/CO and similar environments. The material could also be coated with one or combination of different conductive metals, such as Cu, Ag, Fe and Ti, metal oxides including aluminum oxide, iron oxide, copper oxide, titanium oxide, vanadium oxide, nickel oxide, and silver oxide and/or carbonaceous compounds. Additionally, various combinations of the these methods could also be used.

FIG. 10 shows the voltage profile of a cell made of LiNi.sub.0.5Mn.sub.1.5O.sub.4 as a positive electrode and SrLi.sub.2Ti.sub.6O.sub.14 as a negative electrode. The cell delivers a specific discharge capacity of 120 mAh/g at C/5 rate. FIG. 11 shows the cycle stability of a cell fabricated with this chemistry.

It should be understood that the above description of the invention and the specific examples and embodiments therein, while indicating the preferred embodiments of the present invention, are given only by demonstration and not limitation. Many changes and modification within the scope of the present invention may therefore be made without the parting from the spirit of the invention, and the invention includes all such changes and modifications.
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