AIMD prediction errors in Lithium Superionic Conductors

Congratulations to Ji Qi on his paper on “Bridging the gap between simulated and experimental ionic conductivities in lithium superionic conductors” published in Materials Today Physics. Part of a “Special Issue on Solid state batteries: materials, characterizations, and understandings”, this is Ji’s first first-author paper. Lithium superionic conductors (LSCs) are of major importance as solid electrolytes for next-generation all-solid-state lithium-ion batteries. However, ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) often make wrong predictions of their ionic conductivities due to the short time scales and small cell sizes used. Here, we present a strategy to bridge this gap using machine learning interatomic potentials based on the moment tensor potential (MTP) formalism. We show that the DFT functional used to train the MTPs plays a critical role in the accuracy of the predictions. In particular, the van der Waals optB88 functional yield much more accurate lattice parameters, which in turn leads to accurate prediction of ionic conductivities and activation energies for Li0.33La0.56TiO3, Li3YCl6 and Li7P3S11. Nanosecond NPT MD simulations also reveal that all three lithium superionic conductors undergo a transition between two quasi-linear Arrhenius regimes at relatively low temperatures. This transition can be traced to an increase in the number and diversity of diffusion […]

L-edge XANES database

Yiming’s paper on “Database of ab initio L-edge X-ray absorption near edge structure” has just been published in Nature Scientific Data! This work is a collaboration between the Materials Virtual Lab, the Materials Project, Alan Dozier and the groups of Prof John Rehr at the University of Washington and Prof Jordi Cabana at the University of Illinois Chicago. It is a follow-up to our earlier work on a K-edge XANES database, the L-edge XANES database provides instant access to more than 140,000 L-edge spectra for more than 22,000 structures generated using a high-throughput FEFF9 workflow. The L-edge XANES is widely used in the characterization of transition metal compounds. The data is available through the Materials Project XAS app and addresses a critical need for L-edge XANES spectra among the research community. The journal article is available at this link.

Halide Migration in Lead Halide Perovskites

Manas just published his first paper on “Correlated Octahedral Rotation and Organic Cation Reorientation Assist Halide Ion Migration in Lead Halide Perovskites” in Chemistry of Materials! Halide ion migration is one of the main contributors to instability and hysteresis in lead halide perovskite (LHP) solar cells. In this collaborative work with the Fenning group, we elucidate the effect of octahedral rotation and organic cation rotation on halide ion migration in APbBr3 (A = Cs or methylammonium/MA) LHPs. While both effects lower halide migration barriers, organic cation rotation plays a much bigger role in hybrid organic-inorganic LHPs, which can be linked to changes in H bonding during the halide migration process. We suggest that “locking” the organic cation via chemical and processing means can help mitigate halide migration-induced instability and reduced hysteresis in LHP solar cells. Check out the work at this link.

Metal-Insulator Transition in V2O3 with Intrinsic Defects


Richard’s paper on “Metal-Insulator Transition in V2O3 with Intrinsic Defects” has just been published in Physical Review B! V2O3 is a material of potential interest for neuromorphic computing, i.e., computers that mimic biological brains and have the potential to be far more efficient than traditional von Neumann architectures. A potential implementation utilizes metal insulator transitions (MITs) to implement “leaky, integrate, and fire” to emulate short-term memory. V2O3, which undergo a metal-insulator transition (MIT) at 165K, can be used to implement al for such devices as they exhibit a sudden collapse of insulating behavior under an external stimuli, and they can gradually recover their insulating state over time in the absence of the stimuli. This behavior is known as volatile resistive switching. Here, we show that the PBE + U functional provides the best compromise between accuracy and efficiency in calculating the properties related to the MIT between low-temperature and high-temperature V2O3. We use this functional to explore the various influences that intrinsic point defects will have on the MIT in V2O3. This work is a collaboration with the Schuller group at UCSD as part of the Quantum Materials for Energy Efficient Neuromorphic Computing (QMEEN-C) center, an Energy Frontier Research Center […]

Stable Cathode-Na3-xY1-xZrxCl6 Composite for High Voltage All-Solid-State Na-ion Batteries

Our collaborative work with the Meng (UCSD) and Clement (UCSB) groups on the discovery of the Na3-xY1-xZrxCl6 (NYZC) ion conductor has just been published in Nature Communications. While rechargeable solid-state sodium-ion batteries (SSSBs) promise to bring about safer and more energy-dense energy storage, the poor interfacial stability between existing solid electrolytes and typical oxide cathodes has limited their long-term cycling performance and practicality. Using DFT calculations and MD simulations with a machine learning interatomic potential, Swastika Banerjee and Ji Qi from the Materials Virtual Lab identified NYZC as a promising new ion conductor that is both electrochemically stable up to 3.8 V vs. Na/Na+ and chemically compatible with oxide cathodes. NYZC’s ionic conductivity of 6.6 × 10−5 S/cm at ambient temperature, several orders of magnitude higher than oxide coatings, is due to abundant Na vacancies and cooperative MCl6 rotation. A SSSB comprising a NaCrO2 + NYZC composite cathode, Na3PS4 electrolyte, and Na-Sn anode exhibits an exceptional first-cycle Coulombic efficiency of 97.1% at room temperature and can cycle over 1000 cycles with 89.3% capacity retention at 40 °C. Check out our article at this link.

“Liquid-like” Li sublattice in Mixed-Halide Argyrodites Li6-xPS5-xClBrx

Our collaborative work with Prof Hu’s group at Florida State University on “Tunable Lithium-Ion Transport in Mixed-Halide Argyrodites Li6-xPS5-xClBrx: An Unusual Compositional Space” has been published in Chemistry of Materials. In this work, we report a new compositional space of argyrodite superionic conductors, Li6−xPS5−xClBrx [0 ≤ x ≤ 0.8]. In particular, Li5.3PS4.3ClBr0.7 has a remarkably high ionic conductivity of 24 mS/cm at 25 °C and an extremely low lithium migration barrier of 0.155 eV that makes it highly promising for low-temperature operation. Using NMR and DFT calculations (performed by Swastika Banerjee from the Materials Virtual Lab), we show that bromination leads to co-occupancy of Cl-, Br- , and S2- at 4a/4d sites eventually resulting in a “liquid-like” Li-sublattice with a flattened energy landscape when x approaches 0.7.

Machine learning properties of ordered and disordered materials

Our paper on “Learning properties of ordered and disordered materials from multi-fidelity data” has just been published in the inaugural issue of Nature Computational Science! In this work, we address two major impediments to ML for materials science. The first impediment is that valuable accurate data is much more expensive to obtain than less accurate data. Using multi-fidelity materials graph networks (MEGNet), we show that we can use the lower quality data to improve underlying structural representations in models, and in the process significantly improve predictions on smaller, more valuable data (e.g., experimental measurements). The second impediment is that making predictions on disordered materials, which is the vast majority of known materials, is much more difficult than on ordered materials. We show that the elemental representations (embeddings) learned by our MEGNet models can be used to directly model disordered materials. The article is available here. For an independent perspective on the findings, check out the Nature News & Views article. All data and code are available from and the Github repository.

Design Principles for Cation-Mixed Sodium Solid Electrolytes

Zhuoying’s paper on “Design Principles for Cation-Mixed Sodium Solid Electrolytes” is the first publication from the Materials Virtual Lab in 2021! All-solid-state sodium-ion batteries are highly promising for next-generation grid energy storage with improved safety. Published in Advanced Energy Materials, this work develops design rules for the highly promising family of cation-mixed Na superionic conductors Na3PnS4-Na4TtS4. We show that cation mixing results in the “worst of both worlds” in terms of electrochemical stability, but can potentially lead to improved ionic conductivity and moisture stability. In particular, the recently reported Na11Sn2PnS12 superionic conductors are shown to be stable and Na11Sn2AsS12 is identified as a hitherto unexplored stable sodium superionic conductor with higher Na + conductivity and better moisture stability than those already reported experimentally. Check out the work here.

High-entropy Na-ion cathode

Our joint publication with Prof Hailong Chen’s group on “Multiprincipal Component P2-Na0.6(Ti0.2Mn0.2Co0.2Ni0.2Ru0.2)O2 as a High-Rate Cathode for Sodium-Ion Batteries” has just been published in JACS Au. In this work, we extended the “high-entropy” concept in metal alloys and ceramics to layered oxide cathode materials, which stablizes the crystal structure and enhances diffusion. Chi Chen from our group showed using AIMD calculations and NEB calculations that the high-entropy concept leads to a percolating network of low barrier pathways for fast, macroscopic Na diffusion, resulting in the observed high rate performance. Check out the work here.

Joule & Energy and AI Symposium

Prof Ong gave a talk at the Joule & Energy and AI Joint Online Symposium on our recent work on “Multi-fidelity Graph Networks forMaterials Property Predictions”. Predicting the properties of a material from the arrangement of its atoms is a fundamental goal in materials science. In recent years, machine learning (ML) on ab initio calculations has emerged as a new paradigm to provide rapid predictions of materials properties across vast chemical spaces. However, the performances of ML models are determined by the quantity and quality of data, which tend to be inversely correlated with each other. In this talk, we show that multi-fidelity materials graph networks can transcend this trade-off to achieve accurate predictions of the experimental band gaps of ordered and disordered materials to within 0.3-0.5 eV. Further, such models can be readily extended to predict the band gaps of disordered crystals to excellent agreement with experiments, addressing a major gap in the computational prediction of materials properties. You can check out the two works discussed in the presentation at: (1) Chen, C.; Zuo, Y.; Ye, W.; Li, X.; Ong, S. P. Multi-Fidelity Graph Networks for Machine Learning the Experimental Properties of Ordered and Disordered Materials. arXiv:2005.04338 [cond-mat] 2020. […]