Key parameters governing the densification of cubic-Li7La3Zr2O12 Li+ conductors

Richard Laine

E Yi, W Wang, J Kieffer, and RM Laine (2017)

Journal of Power Sources, 352:156-164.

Cubic-Li7La3Zr2O12 (LLZO) is regarded as one of the most promising solid electrolytes for the construction of inherently safe, next generation all-solid-state Li batteries. Unfortunately, sintering these materials to full density with controlled grain sizes, mechanical and electrochemical properties relies on energy and equipment intensive processes. In this work, we elucidate key parameters dictating LLZO densification by tracing the compositional and structural changes during processing calcined and ball-milled Al3+ doped LLZO powders. We find that the powders undergo ion (Li+/H+) exchange during room temperature processing, such that on heating, the protonated LLZO lattice collapses and crystallizes to its constituent oxides, leading to reaction driven densification at < 1000 °C, prior to sintering of LLZO grains at higher temperatures. It is shown that small particle sizes and protonation cannot be decoupled, and actually aid densification. We conclude that using fully decomposed nanoparticle mixtures, as obtained by liquid-feed flame spray pyrolysis, provides an ideal approach to use high surface and reaction energy to drive densification, resulting in pressureless sintering of Ga3+ doped LLZO thin films (25 μm) at 1130 °C/0.3 h to ideal microstructures (95 ± 1% density, 1.2 ± 0.2 μm average grain size) normally accessible only by pressure-assisted sintering. Such films offer both high ionic conductivity (1.3 ± 0.1 mS cm−1) and record low ionic area specific resistance (2 Ω cm2).

Solid electrolyte, Thin film, Lithium ion battery, flame spray pyrolysis