The Kinetics of Nanometer Sized TiO2 Films as a Lithium-Ion Insertion Electrode

Monday, 6 October 2014: 11:45
Sunrise, 2nd Floor, Star Ballroom 5 (Moon Palace Resort)
S. Moitzheim (imec, Kapeldreef 75, 3001 Leuven, Belgium, Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis, KU Leuven, 3001 Leuven, Belgium) and P. M. Vereecken (imec, KU Leuven)
The miniaturization of autonomous wireless sensors, implantable devices and energy harvesters, has steadily been increasing in the last decades. However, the pace of miniaturization of batteries has been lagging behind, with typical sizes of batteries two to a thousand times larger than the corresponding microelectronic device1.

To solve this problem, planar all-solid-state thin-film Li-ion micro-batteries have been developed and commercialized. Although they offer size reduction and a significant increase in power density compared to conventional rechargeable coin cells, the limitations due to diffusion resistances and mechanical integrity of such planar devices limits the maximum thickness of the active electrodes and consequently the capacity. To increase the energy density, ultra-thin films could be deposited on three-dimensional substrates thereby significantly increasing the power density and capacity, while preventing detrimental effects such as film cracking and delamination. For this, deposition techniques that can deposit conformably and pinhole-free on 3D structures is necessary. Atomic layer deposition (ALD) is therefore an interesting deposition technique, since structures with very high aspect ratios (~5000) can be coated2.

However, to successfully design 3D (micro-)batteries, the properties of ultra-thin films have to be investigated. A material that shows high capacity (~200 mAh/g), especially upon nanostructuring, is TiO2. Such nanostructuring strategies include using nanoparticles3,  nanotubes4 or nanoflakes5, but the characterization of a well-defined system, such as thin TiO2 films with the same length scale (5 - 35 nm), is still lacking. Therefore, in this work we electrochemically characterize TiO2 thin-films of 5 nm to 35 nm deposited with atomic layer deposition (ALD). Structure and morphology of the films were examined by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and grazing-incidence X-Ray diffraction (GI-XRD), and showed that the crystal structure of as-deposited TiO2 changes from amorphous TiO2 for the 5 nm TiO2 films to anatase for the 35 nm TiO2films.

Electrochemical characterization was done using cyclic voltammetry and galvanostatic charge/discharge. Cyclic voltammetry results shown in figure 1a clearly reflected the difference between lithium insertion/extraction into amorphous and anatase TiO2. Furthermore, scan rate dependent peak current measurements showed how the lithium diffusion behavior changed from semi-infinite diffusion for the 35 nm films to finite-length diffusion for the 5 nm films.

The improved kinetics for thinner films were also captured by galvanostatic charge/discharge measurements. Figure 1b shows the volumetric capacity of lithiation; at a charging rate of 1C, 5 nm TiO2 had a reversible volumetric capacity of ~150 µAh cm-2 µm-1, which is even above the theoretical capacity of TiO2 (~142 µAh cm-2 µm-1). Comparatively, 35 nm TiO2 only achieved a capacity of ~50 µAh cm-2 µm-1. Upon increasing the charging rate to 200C (full theoretical charging in 18 seconds), 50% of the original capacity was retained (~75 µAh cm-2 µm-1) for 5 nm TiO2 and only 10% of the original capacity was retained for 35 nm TiO2 (~5 µAh cm-2 µm-1).

These results highlight the great potential of TiO2thin-films as an electrode in 3D (micro-)batteries and are a good example how simply scaling of the electrode thickness can significantly enhance the volumetric capacity and rate-performance.

1. T. S. Arthur et al., MRS Bull., 36, 523–531 (2011)
2. J. W. Elam, D. Routkevitch, P. P. Mardilovich, and S. M. George, Chem. Mater., 15, 3507–3517 (2003)
3. S. K. Das, M. Patel, and A. J. Bhattacharyya, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2, 2091–2099 (2010)
4. G. F. Ortiz et al., Electrochim. Acta, 54, 4262–4268 (2009)
5. M.-C. Yang, Y.-Y. Lee, B. Xu, K. Powers, and Y. S. Meng, J. Power Sources, 207, 166–172 (2012)