Insights into the Performance Limits of the Li7P3S11 Superionic Conductor : A Combined First-Principles and Experimental Study

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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  • Iek-Heng Chu
  • Han Nguyen
  • Sunny Hy
  • Yuh-Chieh Lin
  • Zihan Xu
  • Zhi Deng
  • Ying Shirley Meng
  • Shyue Ping Ong


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7843-7853
Journal / PublicationACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


The Li7P3S11 glass-ceramic is a promising superionic conductor electrolyte (SCE) with an extremely high Li+ conductivity that exceeds that of even traditional organic electrolytes. In this work, we present a combined computational and experimental investigation of the material performance limitations in terms of its phase and electrochemical stability, and Li+ conductivity. We find that Li7P3S11 is metastable at 0 K but becomes stable at above 630 K (∼360°C) when vibrational entropy contributions are accounted for, in agreement with differential scanning calorimetry measurements. Both scanning electron microscopy and the calculated Wulff shape show that Li7P3S11 tends to form relatively isotropic crystals. In terms of electrochemical stability, first-principles calculations predict that, unlike the LiCoO2 cathode, the olivine LiFePO4 and spinel LiMn2O4 cathodes are likely to form stable passivation interfaces with the Li7P3S11 SCE. This finding underscores the importance of considering multicomponent integration in developing an all-solid-state architecture. To probe the fundamental limit of its bulk Li+ conductivity, a comparison of conventional cold-press sintered versus spark-plasma sintering (SPS) Li7P3S11 was done in conjunction with ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) simulations. Though the measured diffusion activation barriers are in excellent agreement, the AIMD-predicted room-temperature Li+ conductivity of 57 mS cm-1 is much higher than the experimental values. The optimized SPS sample exhibits a room-temperature Li+ conductivity of 11.6 mS cm-1, significantly higher than that of the cold-pressed sample (1.3 mS cm-1) due to the reduction of grain boundary resistance by densification. We conclude that grain boundary conductivity is limiting the overall Li+ conductivity in Li7P3S11, and further optimization of overall conductivities should be possible. Finally, we show that Li+ motions in this material are highly collective, and the flexing of the P2S7 ditetrahedra facilitates fast Li+ diffusion. (Graph Presented). © 2016 American Chemical Society.

Research Area(s)

  • ab initio molecular dynamics, electrolyte-electrode interface, ionic conductivity, Li7P3S11, spark-plasma sintering, superionic conductor electrolyte

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Citation Format(s)

Insights into the Performance Limits of the Li7P3S11 Superionic Conductor: A Combined First-Principles and Experimental Study. / Chu, Iek-Heng; Nguyen, Han; Hy, Sunny et al.
In: ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, Vol. 8, No. 12, 30.03.2016, p. 7843-7853.

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review