Li-Ion Diffusion in Nanoconfined LiBH4-LiI/Al2O3: From 2D Bulk Transport to 3D Long-Range Interfacial Dynamics

Roman Zettl, Maria Gombotz, David Clarkson, Steven G. Greenbaum, Peter Ngene, Petra E. De Jongh, H. Martin R. Wilkening*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Solid electrolytes based on LiBH4 receive much attention because of their high ionic conductivity, electrochemical robustness, and low interfacial resistance against Li metal. The highly conductive hexagonal modification of LiBH4 can be stabilized via the incorporation of LiI. If the resulting LiBH4-LiI is confined to the nanopores of an oxide, such as Al2O3, interface-engineered LiBH4-LiI/Al2O3 is obtained that revealed promising properties as a solid electrolyte. The underlying principles of Li+ conduction in such a nanocomposite are, however, far from being understood completely. Here, we used broadband conductivity spectroscopy and 1H, 6Li, 7Li, 11B, and 27Al nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to study structural and dynamic features of nanoconfined LiBH4-LiI/Al2O3. In particular, diffusion-induced 1H, 7Li, and 11B NMR spin-lattice relaxation measurements and 7Li-pulsed field gradient (PFG) NMR experiments were used to extract activation energies and diffusion coefficients. 27Al magic angle spinning NMR revealed surface interactions of LiBH4-LiI with pentacoordinated Al sites, and two-component 1H NMR line shapes clearly revealed heterogeneous dynamic processes. These results show that interfacial regions have a determining influence on overall ionic transport (0.1 mS cm-1 at 293 K). Importantly, electrical relaxation in the LiBH4-LiI regions turned out to be fully homogenous. This view is supported by 7Li NMR results, which can be interpreted with an overall (averaged) spin ensemble subjected to uniform dipolar magnetic and quadrupolar electric interactions. Finally, broadband conductivity spectroscopy gives strong evidence for 2D ionic transport in the LiBH4-LiI bulk regions which we observed over a dynamic range of 8 orders of magnitude. Macroscopic diffusion coefficients from PFG NMR agree with those estimated from measurements of ionic conductivity and nuclear spin relaxation. The resulting 3D ionic transport in nanoconfined LiBH4-LiI/Al2O3 is characterized by an activation energy of 0.43 eV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38570-38583
Number of pages14
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number34
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2020


  • conductivity
  • dynamics
  • electrolytes
  • lithium borohydride
  • nanoconfinement
  • NMR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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