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Title: Atomic-scale origin of the low grain-boundary resistance in perovskite solid electrolyte Li0.375Sr0.4375Ta0.75Zr0.25O3

Oxide solid electrolytes (OSEs) have the potential to achieve improved safety and energy density for lithium-ion batteries, but their high grain-boundary (GB) resistance generally is a bottleneck. In the well-studied perovskite oxide solid electrolyte, Li3xLa2/3-xTiO3(LLTO), the ionic conductivity of grain boundaries is about three orders of magnitude lower than that of the bulk. In contrast, the related Li0.375Sr0.4375Ta0.75Zr0.25O3(LSTZ0.75) perovskite exhibits low grain boundary resistance for reasons yet unknown. Here, we use aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy and spectroscopy, along with an active learning moment tensor potential, to reveal the atomic scale structure and composition of LSTZ0.75 grain boundaries. Vibrational electron energy loss spectroscopy is applied for the first time to reveal atomically resolved vibrations at grain boundaries of LSTZ0.75 and to characterize the otherwise unmeasurable Li distribution therein. We find that Li depletion, which is a major reason for the low grain boundary ionic conductivity of LLTO, is absent for the grain boundaries of LSTZ0.75. Instead, the low grain boundary resistivity of LSTZ0.75 is attributed to the formation of a nanoscale defective cubic perovskite interfacial structure that contained abundant vacancies. Our study provides new insights into the atomic scale mechanisms of low grain boundary resistivity.

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Nature Communications
Nature Publishing Group
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National Science Foundation
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