In order to fully understand the lithium-ion transport mechanism in solid electrolytes for batteries, not only the periodic lattice but also the non-periodic features that disrupt the ideal periodicity must be comprehensively studied. At present only a limited number of non-periodic features such as point defects and grain boundaries are considered in mechanistic studies. Here, we discover an additional type of non-periodic feature that significantly influences ionic transport; this feature is termed a “single-atom-layer trap” (SALT). In a prototype solid electrolyte Li0.33La0.56TiO3, the single-atom-layer defects that form closed loops, i.e., SALTs, are found ubiquitous by atomic-resolution electron microscopy. According to ab initio calculations, these defect loops prevent large volumes of materials from participating in ionic transport, and thus severely degrade the total conductivity. This discovery points out the urgency of thoroughly investigating different types of non-periodic features, and motivates similar studies for other solid electrolytes.
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Iowa State University Digital Repository, Ames IA (United States)