Understanding Superionic Conductivity in Lithium and Sodium Salts of Weakly Coordinating Closo-Hexahalocarbaborate Anions
Mathias Jorgensen, Patrick T. Shea, Anton W. Tomich, Joel B. Varley, Marnik Bercx, Sergio Lovera, Radovan Cerny, Wei Zhou, Terrence J. Udovic, Vincent Lavallo, Torben R. Jensen, Brandon C. Wood, Vitalie Stavila
Solid-state ion conductors based on closo-polyborate anions combine high ionic conductivity with a rich array of tunable properties. Cation mobility in these systems is intimately related to the strength of the interaction with the neighboring anionic network and the energy for reorganizing the coordination polyhedra. Here, we explore such factors in solid electrolytes with two anions of the weakest coordinating ability, [HCB11H5Cl6]- and [HCB11H5Br6]-, and a total of eleven polymorphs are identified for their lithium and sodium salts. Our approach combines ab initio molecular dynamics, synchrotron X-ray powder diffraction, differential scanning calorimetry, and AC impedance measurements to investigate their structures, phase-transition behavior, anion orientational mobilities, and ionic conductivities. We find that M(HCB11H5X6) (M = Li, Na, X = Cl, Br) compounds exhibit order-disorder polymorphic transitions between 203 and 305 °C, and display Li and Na superionic conductivity in the disordered state. Through detailed analysis, we illustrate how cation disordering in these compounds originates from a competitive interplay among the lattice symmetry, the anion reorientational mobility, the geometric and electronic asymmetry of the anion, and the polarizability of the halogen atoms. These factors are compared to other closo-polyboratebased ion conductors to suggest guidelines for optimizing the cation-anion interaction for fast ion mobility. This study expands the known solid-state, poly(carba)borate-based materials capable of liquid-like ionic conductivities and provides additional insights into the development of practical superionic solid electrolytes.