Structural Degradation of High Voltage Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) Cathodes in Solid-State Batteries and Implications for Next Generation Energy Storage

In this study, we report the stability of the layered high voltage cathode NMC622 with respect to a standard liquid electrolyte and in an all solid-state configuration. NMC622 cathodes with a (104) orientation were found to suffer from degradation at high voltage (4.5 V vs Li/Li+) due to electrolyte-promoted degradation of the layered structure in a carbonate electrolyte. The lithium phosphorus oxynitride (LiPON) electrolyte was able to suppress the extent of this decomposition in solid-state cells but not totally prevent it from occurring. In the solid-state cells the capacity decreased from 203 to 93 mAh/g in the first cycle and from 93 to 79 mAh/g over the subsequent 99 cycles, whereas, after 20 cycles, the liquid cell charge capacity was dominated by the irreversible electrolyte degradation. The interfacial resistances of the solid-state cells were stable with cycling, suggesting minimal degradation of the NMC622/LiPON interface and incumbent losses due to structural evolution associated with cathode orientation. This data indicates that accessing stable high voltage capacity in NMCs will not be enabled by simply stabilizing the cathode–electrolyte interface. Optimizing cathode crystallographic orientation may be the key to accessing this high voltage regime.