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Journal of the Chilean Chemical Society

versão On-line ISSN 0717-9707

J. Chil. Chem. Soc. v.53 n.2 Concepción jun. 2008 


J. Chil. Chem. Soc, 53, N° 2 (2008), pages: 1494-1497





LEFQS, Departamento de Química de los Materiales, Facultad de Química y Biología, Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Ave. L.B. O'Higgins 3363, Santiago, Chile. *e-mail


Lithium cobaltite, LiCo204, prepared by thermal decomposition of nitrates salts was synthesized at 400 °C. X-ray Rietveld refinement showed the presence of two phases: a cubic spinel (Co304) and other corresponding to spinel-like, which could not be classified as LiCo204 or LiCo02 since both crystallized in Fd3m S.G.

Electrochemical determinations (charge-discharge curves and impedance spectroscopy measurements) showed that Li+ ion is inserted into the spinel lattice, with D = 8 10-16 cm s-1 at 2.00-2.25 V potential range whereas lithium extraction occurred at 3.2-3.8 V potential range.

Keywords: lithium cobalt oxide, lithium intercalation materials, lithium ion batteries, spinel, mixed oxides.



Lithium transition double metal oxides LiM02 (M =Co, Mn, Ni) with layered or spinel structure (LiMn204) are efficient cathodes for lithium rechargeable batteries. Most of the commercial Li-ion cells currently use layered LiCo02 material because of their high voltage, high energy density (~ 500 Wh/Kg) and high recycling ability. It is well known that LiCo02 can crvstallize in three different structural phases: hexagonal close packing with space group, cubic close-packed arrangement with Fm3m group and spinel with or Fd3m group. Hexagonal and spinel phases exhibit electrochemical activity. However, only 50% of the theoretical capacity of LiCo02 can be practically utilized (140 Ah/Kg), which corresponds to a reversible lithium extraction range of 1 ≥1 -x ≥ 0.5 in Li1-x CoO2. In order to generate this compound, several methods of synthesis have been investigated: co-precipitation1,2, sol-gel3, hydrothermal4,5, ion exchange reactions6, reflux reactions5, hydrothermal-electrochemical7 and electrochemical reflux8.

The performance of LiM02 (with M = Co, Mn) electrodes decreases during the electrochemical cycling by the formation of less active spinel-like than hexagonal phases such as Li0.5CoO29 or Li1-xMn0210. A Li0.5CoO2 spinel-like phase was detected for the first time by Gummow et al., who obtained it by delithiation of low temperature oxide, LT- LiCo0211. A spinel phase showing the Fd3m space group was prepared from the rhombohedral layered oxide Li0 5Co02 by heating at 200°C12. The Li0.5Co02 oxide was synthesized previously by chemical lithium extraction from layered LT-LiCo02 using Na2S2O8 as the oxidizing agent. Transformation of the layered Li0.5Co02 into the ideal spinel phase (Li)8a [Co ] O requires the migration of 25% of the Co ions from the Co planes (3b sites) into the lithium planes (3a sites) of the rhombohedral layer structure. However, the formation of the ideal spinel structure should be difficult considering the large Co3+ octahedral site stabilization energy; although theoretical calculations indicate that the formation of the low energy spinel is feasible13. Recently, non stoichiometric compounds of Lit xCo204 (x = 0, 0.4, 0.56 and δ = 0.13, 0.52, 0.64 respectively) composition were synthesized by extracting lithium from LT-LiCo0214. All samples were indexed on the basis of the spinel structure within the space group Fd3m exhibiting intensities for the 111 index much higher than for the 311 index (whereas in other spinels with the same S.G. 311 is the main plane). The atomic distribution proposed for LT-LiCo02 was {Li2}16c [Co2 ] O4.03 (or LiCoO2.02 in the layered formalism), where Co would be in +3.03 oxidation state. The electrochemical extraction of lithium ions (equivalent to charged electrode) from Li1-xCo2 O4 is limited to x = 0.6 for the spinel prepared from LT-LiCo02 whereas the lithium could be completely extracted from the high temperature layered oxide, HT-LiCo0212.

Impossibility to prepare LiCo204 with normal spinel structure using classical methods has been communicated in the literature12. The aim of this work was the direct synthesis of this oxide showing ideal cubic spinel Fd3m space group using the thermal decomposition of nitrates (TDN) method. X-ray diffraction was used to obtain the atomic distribution considering the octahedral and tetrahedral spinel sites. The electrochemical cathode behavior and lithium diffusion into the electrodes were also studied.


Lithium-cobalt oxides were prepared by the TDN method. LiN03 (Merck p.a. ref. 12230) and Co(N03)2 x 6H20 (Fluka p.a. ref. 60833) were intimately mixed in 1:2 molar ratio and heated first at 120°C and then for 24 h at 200°C in the air. The powder obtained was ground at 300 mesh and finally calcined at 400°C in an oxygen atmosphere during 24 h. X-ray diffraction (XRD), with a Siemens D5000 diffractometer using CoK radiation (0.178897 nm) was used to obtain structural information employing Bragg-Brentano scan geometry, a step size of 0.02°, 4 s by step, and 5<2θ<90. Electrochemical measurements were carried out using two electrode Swagelock® cells. The positive electrode (oxide pellet, 325 mesh) was separated from the negative lithium electrode (99.9% Aldrich ref 26,598-5) by means of 0.3 mm-thick porous glass paper disc soaked in the electrolyte, 1M LiBF4 solution in ethylene carbonate (EC) and diethyl carbonate (DEC) (1:1 wt). The cathode (3 mm thick) was fabricated mixing the oxide with acetylene black (conducting additive) and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) suspension (mechanical binding additive), in a weight ratio of 90:5:5. The lithium insertion (x) was achieved at 78 µA cm-2 (selected from previous experiments) using a home-made potentio-galvanostat device. The chemical diffusion coefficient (D) of the Li+ ions in spinel samples was determined by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) using a Voltalab PGZ 301 apparatus (Radiometer) and software Volta Master 4. The ac voltage amplitude was 200 mV and the frequency range 0.01- 105 Hz.


X-ray diffraction.

Fig. 1 shows the X-ray diffractogram for the lithium-cobalt compound. A typical pattern corresponding to a cubic spinel structure is observed, where all the peaks were indexed according to the Fd3m space group15. The X-Ray.

Diffraction is similar with those obtained by Gummow et al.11 for a lithium cobaltite prepared from carbonate salts. These authors considered a mixture formed by Co304 and a lithium-cobalt oxide known as "spinel like" derived fromLT-LiCo0212,16

Three relevant differences are observed when the cubic spinel phase obtained here and the cubic spinel phase prepared by heating layered Li0 5Co026 are compared. First, in our case the principal plane is the (311) instead of (111) second, (220) and (422) reflections are present, and third, (018) and (110) reflections are absent. In an ideal cubic spinel structure, if Li and Co atoms are placed in tetrahedral 8a and octahedral 16d sites, respectively, the (111) reflection should be the most intense (as in Li0.5 Co02). In turn, if 50% of Li atoms are placed simultaneously in octahedral and tetrahedral sites, the index of maximum intensity would be (311), as observed here. On the other hand, if Co atoms occupy only octahedral sites, the intensity of the indexes (111) and (400) should decrease similarly to the intensity of the (331) peak, which is clearly not the case (Fig. 1).

These evidences prompted us to carry out a Rietveld refinement analysis17. The best results were obtained assuming a mixture of LiCo204 (phase 1) and Co304 (phase 2), according to spinel model (S.G. Fd3morFd3m)18. The atomic distributions {Li0.5Co0.5}8a, [Li0.25Co0.75]16d(O4)32e and {Co}8a, [Co2]16d(04)32e were considered respectively. The observed and calculated XRD profiles are shown in Fig. 2.

The atom crystallographic position, R-factors and a-lattice parameters are summarized in Table 1. The isotropic temperature factors (B) were obtained.

From Gummow et al.11. Rietveld results show the formation of a mixture of two phases, indistinguishable by XRD that crystallized in the same S.G. (Fd3m). The Fullprof Program17 was used to calculate the mixture composition: 66% of phase 1 (LiCo204 or LT-LiCo02) and 34% of phase 2 (Co304). Table 2 shows the positions of XRD lines. The presence of these phases can be accounted for since it has been shown that LiCo204 can disproportionate to Co304 and LiCo0213.

Electrochemical measurements.

The lithium insertion/extraction process, using the Li-Co oxide, was studied. Figure 3 shows the discharge curve corresponding to the insertion of additional lithium ions into the spinel Li1+xCo204 using 78 µAcm-2 as current density and open-circuit voltage (OCV) curve. After the voltage drop, corresponding to x = 0.02, the CCV profile shows a plateau over the 2.1-2.4V range which corresponds to the insertion of Li+ ions into empty 16c octahedral sites. Note the gap (~ IV) between OCV and CCV curves.

Li-Co spinel samples were first discharged to give Li1+xCo204 1 ≤ (1+x) ≤ 1.65 and then subjected to a lithium extraction (Fig. 4). A large separation between discharge and charge profiles suggest an important polarization loss. During the charge process OCV profiles were placed between 2.8 and 3.7 V (not shown), similar to the OCV profile shown in Fig. 3, suggesting good reversibility. Previous reports have described the conservation of the Li1-xCo204 spinel framework during the insertion/extraction process12. Lithium insertion into the 16c sites occurs around 2.1-2.4 V, whereas lithium extraction from 8a sites occurs at 3.2-3.8V regarding oxide electrode values (Fig. 4), which do not match theoretical calculations19.

Lithium ion diffusion coefficient D was determined from the impedance spectrum-(Fig. 5). For a simple insertion electrode reaction, with either charge transfer or diffusion controlled kinetics; the equivalent circuit is a series combination of the charge transfer resistance Rct, and the Warburg diffusion impedance Zw, shunted by the double layer capacity Cd1. The diffusion process can be described by Zw = Z (1-j) ω-1/2. The chemical diffusion coefficient D is determined from the equation |Z| = [Vm(dE/dx)/nFaD1/2] ω-1/2 where Vm is the molar volume of the oxide, dE/dx is the slope of the insertion curve20 in the 2.1-2.4 V potential range. Impedance curves showing a well defined response with a semicircle at high frequency are seen, which are related with Rct in the oxide/ electrolyte interface and with the Warburg line at low frequency corresponding to the diffusion of lithium ion into the oxide. A D value of 8 x 10 -16 cm s-1 was obtained, which is low as compared with that of cobaltite obtained by Sol-Gel (SG) methods (D= 6 10-15 cm s-1) 21. Moreover, the observed insertional behavior does not match with the oxide a-cell parameter, where aTDN >aSG. The low D observed could be accounted for the interstitial presence of Co in the TDN oxide21.


A lithium cobaltite oxide was synthesized using the conventional TDN method. A mixture of two phases (66% of LiCo204 and 34% of Co304) was obtained, both crystallized in the Fd3m space group.

The discharge process, corresponding to Li+ insertion into empty 16c octahedral sites and the charge process, corresponding to lithium extraction from 8a sites, occurred at 2.1-2.4 V and 3.2-3.8 V potential ranges, respectively.

EIS measurements identified a lithium diffusion process in the oxide matrix with a D = 8 10-16 cm s-1.

Electrochemical activity of this oxide mix was similar to that of LiCo2O, (spinel like) prepared from LiCo02 by chemical oxidation12.


This work received financial support from CONICYT (Fondecyt N° 1050178 grant)


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(Received: 2 October 2007 - Accepted: 8 April 2008)


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