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  1. Complex metal oxides (CMOs) are used broadly in applications including electroreactive forms found in lithium-ion battery technology. Computational chemistry can provide unique information about how the properties of CMO cathode materials change in response to changes in stoichiometry, for example, changes of the lithium (Li) content during the charge–discharge cycle of the battery. However, this is difficult to measure experimentally due to the small cross-sectional area of the cations. Outside of operational conditions, the Li content can influence the transformations of the CMO when exposed to the environment. For example, metal release from CMOs in aqueous settings has been identified as a cross-cutting mechanism important to CMO degradation. Computational studies investigating metal release from CMOs show that the thermodynamics depend on the oxidation states of lattice cations, which is expected to vary with the lithium content. In this work, computational studies track changes in metal release trends as a function of Li content in Lix(Ni1/3Mn1/3Co1/3)O2 (NMC). The resulting dataset is used to construct a random forest tree (RFT) machine learning (ML) model. A modeling challenge in delithiation studies is the large configurational space to sample. Through investigating multiple configurations at each lithium fraction, we find structural features associated with favorablemore »energies to chemically guide the identification of relevant structures and adequately predict voltage values.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  2. A classical model in the framework of the INTERFACE force field has been developed for treating the LiCoO$_2$ (LCO) (001)/water interface. In comparison to {\em ab initio} molecular dynamics (MD) simulations based on density functional theory, MD simulations using the classical model lead to generally reliable descriptions of interfacial properties, such as the density distribution of water molecules. Water molecules in close contact with the LCO surface form a strongly adsorbed layer, which leads to a free energy barrier for the absorption of polar or charged molecules to the LCO surface. Moreover, due to the strong hydrogen bonding interactions with the LCO surface, the first water layer forms an interface that exhibits hydrophobic characters, leading to favorable adsorption of non-polar molecules to the interface. Therefore, despite its highly polar nature, the LCO (001) surface binds not only polar/charged but also non-polar solutes. As an application, the model is used to analyze the adsorption of reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and its molecular components to the LCO (001) surface in water. The results suggests that recently observed redox activity of NADH at the LCO/water interface was due to the co-operativity between the ribose component, which drives binding to the LCO surface,more »and the nicotinamide moiety, which undergoes oxidation.« less
  3. null (Ed.)
    Among high-valence metal oxides, LiCoO 2 and related materials are of environmental importance because of the rapidly increasing use of these materials as cathodes in lithium ion batteries. Understanding the impact of these materials on aqueous environments relies on understanding their redox chemistry because Co release is dependent on oxidation state. Despite the critical role that redox chemistry plays in cellular homeostasis, the influence of specific biologically relevant electron transporters such as nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and glutathione (GSH) on the transformation of engineered nanoparticles has not been widely considered previously. Here we report an investigation of the interaction of LiCoO 2 nanoparticles with NADH and GSH. Measurements of Co release using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) show that exposing LiCoO 2 nanoparticles to either NADH or GSH increases solubilization of cobalt, while corresponding spectroscopic measurements show that NADH is concurrently oxidized to NAD + . To demonstrate that these effects are a consequence the high-valence Co(III) inLiCoO 2 nanoparticles, we performed control experiments using Co(II)-containing Co(OH) 2 and LiCoPO 4 , and dissolved Co 2+ /Li + ions. Additional experiments using molecules of similar structure to NADH and GSH, but that are not reducing agents, confirm that these transformationsmore »are driven by redox reactions and not by chelation effects. Our data show that interaction of LiCoO 2 with NADH and GSH induces release Co 2+ ions and alters the redox state of these biologically important transporters. Observation of NADH binding to LiCoO 2 using x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) suggests a surface catalyzed reaction. The reciprocal reduction of LiCoO 2 to enable release of Co 2+ and corresponding oxidation of NADH and GSH as model redox-active biomolecules has implications for understanding the biological impacts of high-valence metal oxide nanomaterials.« less
  4. Nanoscale complex metal oxides have transformed how technology is used around the world. A ubiquitous example is the class of electroreactive cathodes used in Li-ion batteries, found in portable electronics and electric cars. Lack of recycling infrastructure and financial drivers contribute to improper disposal, and ultimately, introduction of these materials into the environment. Outside of sealed operational conditions, it has been demonstrated that complex metal oxides can transform in the environment, and cause negative biological impact through leaching of cations into aqueous phases. Using a combined DFT and thermodynamics methodology, insights into the mechanism and driving forces of cation release can be studied at the molecular-level. Here, we describe design principles that can be drawn from previous collaborative research on complex metal oxide dissolution of the Li(Ni y Mn z Co 1−y−z )O 2 family of materials, and go on to posit ternary complex metal oxides in the delafossite structure type with controlled release behavior. Using equistoichiometric formulations in the delfossite structure, we use DFT and thermodynamics to model cation release. The release trends are discussed in terms of lattice stability, solution chemistry/solubility limits, and electronic/magnetic properties. Intercalation voltages are calculated and discussed as a predictive metric for potential functionalitymore »of the model materials.« less
  5. Lithium intercalation compounds, such as the complex metal oxide, lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (LiNi x Mn y Co 1−x−y O 2 , herein referred to as NMC), have demonstrated their utility as energy storage materials. In response to recent concerns about the global supply of cobalt, industrially synthesized NMCs are shifting toward using NMC compositions with enriched nickel content. However, nickel is one of the more toxic components of NMC materials, meriting investigation of the toxicity of these materials on environmentally relevant organisms. Herein, the toxicity of both nanoscale and microscale Ni-enriched NMCs to the bacterium, Shewanella oneidensis MR-1, and the zooplankton, Daphnia magna , was assessed. Unexpectedly, for the bacteria, all NMC materials exhibited similar toxicity when used at equal surface area-based doses, despite the different nickel content in each. Material dissolution to toxic species, namely nickel and cobalt ions, was therefore modelled using a combined density functional theory and thermodynamics approach, which showed an increase in material stability due to the Ni-enriched material containing nickel with an oxidation state >2. The increased stability of this material means that similar dissolution is expected between Ni-enriched NMC and equistoichiometric NMC, which is what was found in experiments. For S.more »oneidensis , the toxicity of the released ions recapitulated toxicity of NMC nanoparticles. For D. magna , nickel enrichment increased the observed toxicity of NMC, but this toxicity was not due to ion release. Association of the NMC was observed with both S. oneidensis and D. magna. This work demonstrates that for organisms where the major mode of toxicity is based on ion release, including more nickel in NMC does not impact toxicity due to increased particle stability; however, for organisms where the core composition dictates the toxicity, including more nickel in the redesign strategy may lead to greater toxicity due to nanoparticle-specific impacts on the organism.« less