Density Functional Theory Modeling of MnO2 Polymorphs as Cathodes for Multivalent Ion Batteries

Taylor R. Juran, Joshua Young, Manuel Smeu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Multivalent ion batteries (MVIBs) provide an inexpensive and energy-dense alternative to Li-ion batteries when portability of the battery is not of primary concern. However, it is difficult to find cathode materials that provide optimal battery characteristics such as energy density, adequate charge/discharge rates, and cyclability when paired with a multivalent ion. To address this, we investigate six MnO2 polymorphs as cathodes for MVIBs using density functional theory calculations. We find voltages as high as 3.7, 2.4, 2.7, 1.8, and 1.0 V for Li, Mg, Ca, Al, and Zn, respectively, and calculate the volume change due to intercalation. We then focus specifically on Ca and compute the energy barriers which are associated with the diffusion of the ion throughout the materials. Our findings show that the α-phase displays the most rapid diffusion kinetics for a Ca ion, with a diffusion barrier as low as 190 meV. We then investigate the potential for the five polymorphs exhibiting the highest voltage to intercalate additional atoms and demonstrate that it is energetically favorable for each to accept at least one additional Ca ion; furthermore, two of the phases can accept more than two Ca ions. However, in each case, there is also a corresponding drop in the voltage as further atoms are intercalated. We also utilize a crystal-chemistry approach to detail the structural evolution of each phase by computing the bond valence sum and effective coordination of the Mn4+ ions upon intercalation of increasing numbers of Ca ions. Finally, by computing the electronic density of states, Bader charges, and real space charge density, we describe how the additional electrons from the Ca ions are distributed throughout the unit cell. These insights provide guidance in selecting a MnO2 polymorph with the traits necessary for the realization of MVIBs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8788-8795
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 26 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • General Energy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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