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Research Highlight | Materials Science Division

Diffuse scattering imaging of short-range ionic correlations

In a study published in Nature Materials, researchers describe a new scattering technique to probe the structural evolution of cathode materials to inform creation of better battery materials.

Scientific Achievement

Novel diffuse scattering techniques reveal the presence of short-range ionic order upon intercalation in an archetypical cathode material.

Significance and Impact

Understanding of how order-disorder transitions limit ionic transport is paramount in designing materials with improved properties.

Research Details

  • Single crystal diffuse scattering measurements were performed on the cathode material, Na0.45V2O5.
  • Measurements over large volumes of reciprocal space enabled transformation into pair distribution functions that reveal short-range order in real space (3D-ΔPDF).
  • The 3D-ΔPDF directly shows the formation of ordered zig-zag chains of Na-ions within the vanadium oxide matrix.
  • Such atomic ordering of intercalant ions disrupts ionic mobility and hence is detrimental to battery performance.


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