Role of Surface Structure on Li-ion Energy Storage Capacity of Two-dimensional Transition Metal Carbides
A combination of density functional theory (DFT) calculations and experiments are used to shed light on the relation between surface structure and Li-ion storage capacities of the following functionalized two-dimensional (2D) transition metal carbides, or MXenes: Sc2C, Ti2C, Ti3C2, V2C, Cr2C, and Nb2C. The Li-ion storage capacities are found to strongly depend on the nature of the surface functional groups, with O groups exhibiting the highest theoretical Li-ion storage capacities. MXene surfaces can be initially covered with OH groups, removable by high temperature treatment or by reactions in the first lithiation cycle. This was verified by annealing f-Nb2C and f-Ti3C2 at 673 K and 773 K in vacuum for 40 h and in situ x-ray adsorption spectroscopy (XAS) and Li capacity measurements for the first lithiation/delithiation cycle of f-Ti3C2. The high temperature removal of water and OH was confirmed using x-ray diffraction and inelastic neutron scattering. The voltage profile and x-ray adsorption near edge structure of f-Ti3C2 revealed surface reactions in the first lithiation cycle.
Moreover, lithiated oxygen terminated MXenes surfaces are able to adsorb additional Li beyond a monolayer, providing a mechanism to substantially increase capacity, as observed mainly in delaminated MXenes and confirmed by DFT calculations and XAS. The calculated Li diffusion barriers are low, indicative of the measured high-rate performance. We predict Cr2C to possess high Li capacity due to the low activation energy of water formation at high temperature, while Sc2C is predicted to potentially display low Li capacity due to increased reaction barriers for OH removal.