ACS APPLIED ENERGY MATERIALS, vol.2, no.2, pp.1251-1258, 2019 (SCI-Expanded)
Using first-principles calculations, we demonstrated that high lithium storage capacity and fast kinetics are achieved for Ti3C2O2 by preintercalating organic molecules. As a proof-of-concept, two different quinone molecules, namely 1,4-benzoquinone (C6H4O2) and tetrafluoro-1,4-benzoquinone (C6F4O2) were selected as the molecular linkers to demonstrate the feasibility of this interlayer engineering strategy for energy storage. As compared to Ti3C2O2 bilayer without linker molecules, our pillared structures facilitate a much faster ion transport, promising a higher charge/discharge rate for Li. For example, while the diffusion barrier of a single Li ion within pristine Ti3C2O2 bilayer is at least 1.0 eV, it becomes 0.3 eV in pillared structures, which is comparable and even lower than that of commercial materials. At high Li concentrations, the calculated diffusion barriers are as low as 0.4 eV. Out-of-plane migration of Li ions is hindered due to large barrier energy with a value of around 1-1.35 eV. Concerning storage capacity, we can only intercalate one monolayer of Li within pristine Ti3C2O2 bilayer. In contrast, pillared structures offer significantly higher storage capacity. Our calculations showed that at least two layers of Li can be intercalated between Ti3C2O2 layers without forming bulk Li and losing the pillared structure upon Li loading/unloading. A small change in the in-plane lattice parameters (<0.5%) and volume (<1.0%) and ab initio molecular dynamics simulations prove the stability of the pillared structures against Li intercalation and thermal effects. Intercalated molecules avoid the large contraction/expansion of the whole structure, which is one of the key problems in electrochemical energy storage. Pillared structures allow us to realize electrodes with high capacity and fast kinetics. Our results open new research paths for improving the performance of not only MXenes but also other layered materials for supercapacitor and battery applications.