Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Advisor

Jiann-Yang Hwang

DOI

10.37099/mtu.dc.etds/20

Abstract

LiFePO4 is a Co-free battery material. Its advantages of low cost, non-toxic and flat discharge plateau show promising for vehicle propulsion applications. A major problem associated with this material is its low electrical conductivity. Use of nanosized LiFePO4 coated with carbon is considered a solution because the nanosized particles have much shorter path for L+ ions to travel from the LiFePO4 crystal lattice to electrolytes. As other nano material powders, however, nano LiFePO4 could have processing and health issues.

In order to achieve high electrical conductivity while maintaining a satisfactory manufacturability, the particles should possess both of the nano- and the microcharacteristics correspondingly. These two contradictory requirements could only be fulfilled if the LiFePO4 powders have a hierarchical structure: micron-sized parent particles assembled by nanosized crystallites with appropriate electrolyte communication channels.

This study addressed the issue by study of the formation and development mechanisms of the LiFePO4 crystallites and their microstructures. Microwaveassisted wet chemical (MAWC) synthesis approach was employed in order to facilitate the evolvement of the nanostructures. The results reveal that the LiFePO4 crystallites were directly nucleated from amorphous precursors by competition against other low temperature phases, Li3PO4 and Fe3(PO4)2•8H2O. Growth of the crystalline LiFePO4 particles went through oriented attachment first, followed by revised Ostwald ripening and then recrystallization. While recrystallization played the role in growth of well crystallized particles, oriented attachment and revised Ostwald ripening were responsible for formation of the straight edge and plate-like shaped LiFePO4 particles comprised of nanoscale substructure. Oriented attachment and revised Ostwald ripening seemed to be also responsible for clustering the plate-like LiFePO4 particles into a high-level aggregated structure.

The finding from this study indicates a hope for obtaining the hierarchical structure of LiFePO4 particles that could exhibit the both micro- and nano- scale characteristics. Future study is proposed to further advance the understanding of the structural development mechanisms, so that they can be manipulated for new LiFePO4 structures ideal for battery application.

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