Understanding fast ion dynamics in sodiated Li4Na x Ti5O12: from interfacial to extended Li+ and Na+ dynamics in its mixed-conducting solid solutions

Patrick Posch, Sarah Lunghammer, Alexandra Wilkening, Katharina Hogrefe, H. Martin R. Wilkening*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Climate change and energy crises require the development of new sustainable materials to realise reliable electrochemical energy storage devices. Spinel-type Li4Ti5O12 (LTO) is one of the most promising anode materials not only for Li-based batteries, but also for those relying on sodium. While Li+ ion dynamics at the early stages of lithiation has been studied already previously, almost no data on the diffusion properties of Na+ ions can be found in the literature. Here, we used nucleus-specific 7Li and 23Na nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to quantify the motional processes in mixed-conducting Li4Na x Ti5O12 with x = 0.1, 0.5 and 1.5 on the angstrom length scale. Most importantly, our results reveal a strong increase in Li+ diffusivity in the early stages of chemical sodiation that is accompanied by a sharp decrease in activation energy when x reaches 0.5. The two-component 7Li NMR spectra point to the evolution of an interfacial solid solution at very low sodiation levels (x = 0.1). At x = 0.5, these regions emerge over almost the entire crystallite area, enabling rapid 8a-16c-8a Li+ exchange (0.4 eV), which leads to facile long-range ion transport. We direct the attention of the reader towards the initial formation of solid solutions in LTO-based anode materials and their capital impact on overall ion dynamics. In contrast to macroscopic electrochemical testing, NMR is uniquely positioned to detect and to resolve these exceptionally fast ion dynamics during the initial stages of sodiation. As these processes crucially determine the fast-charging performance of LTO-type batteries, our study lays the atomistic foundations to establish a general understanding of why two-phase materials such as LTO can act as an impressive insertion host for both Li and Na ions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number015001
JournalJPhys Energy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • activation energies
  • ion dynamics
  • LiTiO
  • NMR
  • sodiation
  • solid solution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • General Energy
  • Materials Chemistry


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