Unveiling Interfacial Li-Ion Dynamics in Li7La3Zr2O12/PEO(LiTFSI) Composite Polymer-Ceramic Solid Electrolytes for All-Solid-State Lithium Batteries
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Unlocking the full potential of solid-state electrolytes (SSEs) is key to enabling safer and more-energy dense technologies than today’s Li-ion batteries. In particular, composite materials comprising a conductive, flexible polymer matrix embedding ceramic filler particles are emerging as a good strategy to provide the combination of conductivity and mechanical and chemical stability demanded from SSEs. However, the electrochemical activity of these materials strongly depends on their polymer/ceramic interfacial Li-ion dynamics at the molecular scale, whose fundamental understanding remains elusive. While this interface has been explored for nonconductive ceramic fillers, atomistic modeling of interfaces involving a potentially more promising conductive ceramic filler is still lacking. We address this shortfall by employing molecular dynamics and enhanced Monte Carlo techniques to gain unprecedented insights into the interfacial Li-ion dynamics in a composite polymer-ceramic electrolyte, which integrates polyethylene oxide plus LiN(CF3SO2)2 lithium imide salt (LiTFSI), and Li-ion conductive cubic Li7La3Zr2O12 (LLZO) inclusions. Our simulations automatically produce the interfacial Li-ion distribution assumed in space-charge models and, for the first time, a long-range impact of the garnet surface on the Li-ion diffusivity is unveiled. Based on our calculations and experimental measurements of tensile strength and ionic conductivity, we are able to explain a previously reported drop in conductivity at a critical filler fraction well below the theoretical percolation threshold. Our results pave the way for the computational modeling of other conductive filler/polymer combinations and the rational design of composite SSEs.
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