Lithium Lanthanum Zirconate in Lithium-Ion Battery Applications

Lithium Lanthanum Zirconate in Lithium-Ion Battery Applications

Lithium Lanthanum Zirconate is a lithium-stuffed material that is now being experimented with to be utilized in solid-state electrolytes. This is known for its high ionic conductivity and thus plays a great role in transforming the future of lithium-ion batteries in a rather more positive way in accordance with its improved quality.

Lithium-ion batteries are known to be doing great in the industries and Lithium Lanthanum Zirconate has been introduced to rather bring more advancements to the same battery field. Their characteristics are unique in nature which play a role in making these batteries worthwhile to be used in various industries and markets.


A Li-ion battery or Lithium-ion battery is a rechargeable battery type in which during discharge, the lithium ions move through an electrolyte from the negative electrode to the positive electrode, and then during charging, they flow from the positive electrode to the negative electrode. An intercalated lithium compound is used by the lithium-ion batteries at the positive electrode as the material and the typically used compound at the negative electrode is graphite.

Battery Equipment

High energy density

Low self-discharge, no memory effect (other than LFP cells), and high energy density are possessed by the lithium-ion batteries. Cells are made for either prioritizing power density or energy. Although, they can be dangerous as they possess flammable electrolytes and they can result in fires and explosions if they are incorrectly charged or damaged.

Lithium-ion battery’s development

In 1985, Akira Yoshino made a prototype lithium-ion battery, based on research that was done earlier during the 1970-the 1980s by Koichi Mizushima, Rachid Yazami, M. Stanley Whittingham, and John Goodenough, and then in 1991, Yoshio Nishi led a team of Sony and Asahi Kasei which developed a commercial lithium-ion battery. Li-ion batteries are getting famous for aerospace and military applications. They are utilized typically for electric vehicles and portable electronics.

Properties of Lithium-Ion Batteries

Different kinds of lithium-ion batteries have different safety characteristics, cost, performance, and chemistry. Mostly, a graphite anode, a lithium cobalt oxide cathode material (LiCoO2), and lithium polymer batteries (with the electrolyte being the polymer gel) are used by the handheld electronics, as they provide high energy density when combined. Better and improved rate capability and longer lives are provided by lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide, lithium manganese oxide (LiMn2O4 spinel, or Li2MnO3-based lithium-rich layered materials, LMR-NMC), and lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4). Such batteries are utilized broadly for medical equipment, electric tools, and other functions. There is a broad utilization of NMC and its derivatives in electric vehicles.

Further areas of research for the lithium-ion batteries

Among many others, increasing charging speed, lessening cost, enhancing safety, increasing energy density, and extending lifetime, are some of the areas of research for the Li-ion batteries. There has been ongoing research on non-flammable electrolytes as a way for increased safety based on the organic solvents' volatility and flammability that are utilized in the typical electrolyte. Heavily fluorinated systems, ionic liquids, polymer electrolytes, ceramic solid electrolytes, and aqueous lithium-ion electrolytes are included in the strategies.

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Lithium-Ion Batteries of the Present

As compared to the above-mentioned original small electronic devices for the 3C market, the current market for Li-ion batteries is way more difficult. There has been an opening of various markets for small devices like medical devices, vaporizers, e-cigarettes, lighting (fluorescent lights and LCD), and toys, among various others. There can be designing of the discovery that the Li-ion battery packs utilizing 26650, 26700, and 18650 sizes for function at way more power than what was originally suspected and opened markets for e-bikes, garden tools, portable electric tools, and various other products.

High energy cells

Some capacity has been sacrificed by the high power cells for attaining 20A or higher continuous discharge capability in the 18650 cell size whereas as much as 3.4 Ah is possessed by the high energy 18650 cells now. Sustaining such a high capacity during cycling is difficult when some cells claim higher than or equal to 2.5 Ah capacity. The major impact of tab placement and multiple tabs is shown by Reimers, Spotnitz, and coworkers in the Modeling studies. The carbon type that is utilized in the negative electrode, the electrode's porosities, the positive electrode's carbon content, and the thickness of the electrode are the other significant design variables.

Development of ceramic coatings

A beneficial effect is possessed by the production of the ceramic coatings to the positive electrode or the separator on stopping internal short-circuiting during cycling because of the metal particles being adventitiously present on the electrode's surface. Generally, these airborne particles are small and these result frequently from the electrodes' mechanical slitting. The thickness of the separator is 12-25 μm. Thus, the belief that the separator can be penetrated by the extremely small conductive particles and cause a short, is a major failure mechanism of the Li-ion batteries. Such coatings of the separator may be present on the polyolefin separator's both or one side and they may be 2 μm thick or more.

Additional benefits

Enhanced electrolyte wetting due to the easily wet inorganic oxide ceramic phase, better cycling if during cycling, a weak short circuit degrades capacity without resulting in a safety incident, and a much-lessened separator's shrinkage at the temperatures of shutdown (current's shut down because of the melting of the separator won't be successful if the shrinking of the separator reaches to an extent where the direct contact between the cathode and the anode is permitted), are some of the additional benefits of coating the separator. There have been more findings on the complex coatings, for instance, a coating with both aromatic polyamide (aramid polymer) and ceramic particles is involved in the Sumitomo separator that's being utilized by the Tesla and Panasonic Motors for increasing the coating's penetration strength.

Present cathode materials

LiMn2O4 (known as LMO), and the original LiCoO2 (known as LCO) are included in the cathode materials that are in usage right now. LiNixMnyCo1-x-yO2 (known as NMC in general and is of the similar R3-m structure in the original Goodenough patent other than some of the ordering in the transition metal layer) is an excellent material that is still under development. 811, 442, or 532, are the atomic ratios of the subscripts and they are typically called by them, other than the ones investigated initially, x = y = 1/3, which is known as 111 or 333. 532 and 111 are the most usually utilized materials.

Competitive materials

LiNi0.80Co0.15Al0.05 (NCA) is an extremely competitive material and it is a layered R3-m structure too. Several groups together recently made a more competitive material with a 1-dimensional tunnel structure and it is LiFePO4 (LFP). Every one of these materials has been implemented in different applications, based on their particular pros and cons.

Lithium-Ion Coin Cell

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Lithium Lanthanum Zirconate

A tetragonal or cubic crystal structure is maybe possessed by lithium lanthanum zirconate (LLZO). High lithium-ion (Li-ion) conductivity is possessed by the cubic phase, but only at high temperatures of more than 600° C, it is thermodynamically favorable. At room temperature, the tetragonal phase is stable, but poor ionic conductivity is present. At present, solid-state reactions are done to synthesize most of the LLZO, they typically need other mixing methods, ball milling, repeated heat treatments, high temperatures, and extrinsic dopant's controlled addition for stabilization of the cubic phase at the room temperature. Impurity phases are often formed by the dopants that are utilized in these processes, specifically at grain boundaries and interfaces, leading to lessened total conductivity.

Lithium Lanthanum Zirconate’s characteristics

Lithium lanthanum zirconate (Li7La3Zr2O12, LLZO) is appropriate to improve the lithium-ion batteries' safety and energy density. It is a fast ion conductor for the lithium-ions. At low temperatures, the cubic phase can be stabilized by lessening the LLZO's crystallite size below a particular threshold (for instance, to nanometric dimensions) without using the extrinsic dopants. Some particular benefits are possessed by the nanosized ceramics other than the cubic crystalline phase. For instance, sintering's onset temperature is significantly lower for the nanosized ceramic particles because of the comparatively higher surface energy of the nanoparticles relative to the bulk particles. Also, since the lithium-ion conduction along the grain boundaries is higher, higher overall conductivity is yielded by the smaller grain size in dense LLZO ceramics.


Forming a solution made up of compounds of zirconium, lanthanum, and lithium, an organic compound is included in synthesizing nanosized cubic LLZO generally. A solid is yielded by drying the solution, then in oxygen's presence, the solid is heated for pyrolyzing the organic compound for yielding a product including nanosized cubic LLZO. One or more of the following characteristics may be included in the general aspect's limitations.

Solution’s Characteristics

The solution can be non-aqueous or aqueous. An organic solvent like dichloromethane or propionic acid is included in the solution in some cases. Carbon-containing polymer, like poly(vinyl alcohol), poly (vinylpyrrolidone), or both, essentially makes up the organic compound. Tannic acid is included in the organic compound in some cases. Zirconium, lanthanum, and lithium are typically included in the solution in a molar ratio of about 10.5:3:2 or 10:3:2. Zirconium, lithium, and lanthanum are available in a molar ratio of 7:3:2 to 14:3:2 or 11:3:2 in some cases. Zirconium, lanthanum, and lithium compounds maybe are salts, like nitrate salts. Organic moieties like acetylacetonate are included in the compounds of zirconium, lanthanum, and lithium in particular cases.

Heating effects

Typically, the solid's heating includes the formation of a carbonaceous form including the degradation product or the organic compound thereof. Solid heating typically involves the distribution of zirconium, lanthanum, and lithium throughout the carbonaceous form. Heating the solid includes the calcination of the solid in some cases. Typically, the product is 90 wt % nanosized cubic LLZO at least. Lithium zirconate of less than 5 wt %, lanthanum oxide, and a total amount of lanthanum zirconate, is included in the product in some of the cases. Less than 5 wt % of tetragonal LLZO is included in the product in particular cases.

Lithium Lanthanum Zirconate’s benefits

Improved sintering characteristics, densification, and lower temperature fabrication methods are included in the other benefits. Commercially available non-toxic polymers, zirconium, lanthanum, and lithium's organic salts are used in the described polymer-mediated synthesis in some of the implementations for mediating the nanocrystals production, with the solvent being the water. There is an easy implementation of this synthesis as it is capable of yielding huge LLZO amounts from the cheap precursors in one high-temperature heating step and one low-temperature drying step.

The typical temperature of the reaction is many hundred degrees lesser than the temperature of the solid-state reactions, thus needing less energy and lessening lithium volatilization. The nanosized LLZO has the benefit of easier processing additionally because of the lower sintering temperature. Cheaper and simpler methods like roll-to-roll processing might be enabled by the lower temperature processing, with respect to device production.

Lithium Lanthanum Zirconate for the Li-ion batteries

In terms of battery safety, energy density, high-temperature stability, and battery miniaturization, Rechargeable (secondary) all-solid-state lithium batteries possess excellent benefits over the already commercialized Li-ion batteries using polymeric electrolytes, gel, or aprotic solution. They are predicted to be the next-generation high-performance power sources too.

Solid electrolytes

They have negligible electronic conductivity. They are stable against the chemical reactions with Mn-, Ni-, or Co- containing oxides as the cathode (positive electrode) and elemental Li (or Li– metal alloys) as the anode (negative electrode), and with higher than 5.5 V of the decomposition voltages against the elemental Li. Solid electrolytes possessing high lithium-ion conductivity are extremely beneficial for obtaining high power densities and energy along with long-term stability. There have been reports of the conduction of the lithium-ion for a broad range of crystalline halides and metal oxides with various kinds of structures.

Oxide material’s properties

Generally, electrochemical, chemical, and mechanical stability along with good handling is the reason that the oxide materials are considered superior to the non-oxide materials. Until now, not one discovered inorganic lithium-ion conductor has had both. They either possess high electrochemical stability or high ionic conductivity. Some of the oxides are remarkable Li-ion conductors; for instance, Li3xLa(2/3)x&(1/3)2xTiO3 (0 < x < 0.16; "LLT"; & displays a vacancy) exhibits 103 S cm1 of bulk conductivity and at 278C and x 0.1, a total (bulk + grain-boundary) conductivity of 7 6 105 S cm1.

End product

Although, this compound turns predominantly electronically conducting in the range of the lithium activity that's given by 2 electrodes. There have been attempts of replacing the transition metal Ti with Zr in LLT, which is more stable chemically against reaction with lithium), and fixed-valent. Although this was an unsuccessful attempt because of the ready production of the pyrochlore phase La2Zr2O7. However, there have been reports of a big amount of possible Li+ electrolytes for the Li2O-ZrO2 system. It's due to their sensitivity towards air and low conductivity that none of them is appropriate for battery applications.

Fast lithium-ion conducting metal oxides

There have been reports from our laboratory of a class of the fast Li+ ion conducting metal oxides which have a garnet-related structure and the nominal chemical composition Li5La3M2O12 (M = Ta, Nb). Transport pathways are confirmed by the lithium-ion distribution's bond-valence analysis, relating to the high lithium-ion conductivity that was observed in experiments, and lithium ions are estimated to be moving in a 3-dimensional network of partially occupied, energetically equivalent sites. The first examples of fast lithium-ion conductors having garnet-like structures were Li5La3M2O12 (M = Ta, Nb). They started more research on the optimization of conductivity by using structural modifications and chemical substitutions.

Investigated compounds

With 0.40 eV of activation energy and the highest Lithium-ion conductivity of 4 6, 105 S cm1 at 228C 8 is displayed by Li6BaLa2Ta2O12, among the compounds with the garnet-related structures that were investigated. The observed total and bulk conductivity at the room temperature is not enough for the development of an ideal all-solid-state Li-ion rechargeable battery despite Li6BaLa2Ta2O12 showing stability against reactions with common electrode materials, air, moisture, and metallic lithium.

Product’s Synthesis

Li7La3Zr2O12 is a new chemical composition with predominant ionic conduction and a garnet-like structure, and its synthesis has been reported here. The zirconium-containing lithium garnet is a good solid electrolyte for all-solid-state lithium-ion rechargeable batteries because of Li7La3Zr2O12 densification, easy manufacturing, low cost, availability of the starting materials, environmental benignity, good chemical and thermal stability against the reactions with the prospective electrode materials, and high lithium-ion conductivity.

X-ray diffraction

There have been problems in the structure's description regarding the lithium cations' position and space group despite the huge amount of X-ray diffraction (XRD) studies on the Li5La3M2O12 (M = Ta, Nb) garnets. A neutron diffraction investigation recently exhibited that Li5La3M2O12 (M = Ta, Nb) crystallizes in the space group Ia3¯d, that there is a location of Li+ on both the octahedral and tetrahedral sites, and that there is an existence of vacancies on both sites. Li7La3Zr2O12 measured powder XRD pattern well matches the standard pattern of Li5La3Nb2O12 garnet phase's standard pattern, and shows the garnet structure's capability to accommodate different valence states cations and different sizes with no significant change in the symmetry.

Diffraction pattern for a cubic cell

The cubic cell's diffraction pattern could be indexed with a = 12.9682(6) D of lattice constant. There are plannings on understanding the Li+ environments nature in Li7La3Zr2O12 by performing neutron diffraction studies. At 188 C, an impedance plot is achieved for the Li7La3Zr2O12 thick pellet. In the case of the ionically blocking electrode, the tail's appearance at the low frequencies indicates that in nature, the material that's investigated is ionically conducting. There have been observations of the same behavior for the materials that were investigated earlier with the materials with the garnet-related structures.

Impedance plot

There could be a well resolution of the impedance plot into the electrode, grain-boundary, and bulk resistances. The fitted data with an equivalent circuit is represented by the solid line mostly. It consists of (RbQb)(RgbQgb)(Qel) utilizing the Equivalent program. At various temperatures, there were observations of the total conductivity and bulk of Li7La3Zr2O12 thin (0.98 cm in diameter and thickness of 0.18 cm) and thick (diameter of 0.92 cm and thickness of 1.02 cm) pellets and they were from the intercepts of the low- and high-frequency semicircles with the real axis.

Thin pellet

As compared to the thick pellet sample, a little higher bulk and total conductivity are displayed by the thin pellet. Furthermore, it's interestingly observed that at all measured temperatures for both thin and thick pellets, the contribution of grain-boundary to the total resistance is less than 50 %. Accurate separation of the grain-boundary and bulk contributions is difficult at higher temperatures (for a thin pellet, it's more than 508 C and for a thick pellet it is more than 758C); accordingly, we have considered the sum of the bulk and grain boundary contributions to determine the electrical conductivity over the range of temperature that's under investigations.

Total conductivity

As compared to the total conductivity of any other family of solid lithium-ion conductors and all the lithium garnets that were described previously, the total conductivity of the new crystalline fast lithium-ion conductor Li7La3Zr2O12 that displays a garnet like structure is better. In comparison with other ceramic lithium-ion conductors, the most attractive characteristic of Li7La3Zr2O12 garnet-type oxide is this finding of the bulk and total conductivities of the same magnitude.

The total conductivity should be as high as possible for various solid electrolytes applications in the electrochemical devices, like electrochromic displays, sensors, and batteries. It is expected that the low-temperature synthesis of fine-grain Li7La3Zr2O12 with reactants that are easily available, can further enhance the total and bulk conductivity. This can also be done by further densification via a suitable sintering process.

Lithium Lanthanum Zirconate


Lithium Lanthanum Zirconate has recently become the talk of the town with its excellent characteristics which have played an important role in making the lithium-ion batteries better quality-wise. Their significance has rapidly increased and so have their products which have brought stability to the markets and industries using lithium-ion batteries.

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20th Apr 2022 Emilia Coldwell

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