Structural and Electrochemical Properties of Type VIII Ba8Ga16−δSn30+δ Clathrate (δ ≈ 1) during Lithiation

Andrew Dopilka, Amanda Childs, Alexander Ovchinnikov, Ran Zhao, Svilen Bobev, Xihong Peng, Candace K. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Clathrates of the tetrel (Tt = Si, Ge, Sn) elements are host-guest structures that can undergo Li alloying reactions with high capacities. However, little is known about how the cage structure affects the phase transformations that take place during lithiation. To further this understanding, the structural changes of the type VIII clathrate Ba8Ga16−δSn30+δ (δ ≈ 1) during lithiation are investigated and compared to those in β-Sn with ex situ X-ray total scattering measurements and pair distribution function (PDF) analysis. The results show that the type VIII clathrate undergoes an alloying reaction to form Li-rich amorphous phases (LixBa0.17Ga0.33Sn0.67, x = 2-3) with local structures similar to those in the crystalline binary Li-Sn phases that form during the lithiation of β-Sn. As a result of the amorphous phase transition, the type VIII clathrate reacts at a lower voltage (0.25 V vs Li/Li+) compared to β-Sn (0.45 V) and goes through a solid-solution reaction after the initial conversion of the crystalline clathrate phase. Cycling experiments suggest that the amorphous phase persists after the first lithiation and results in considerably better cycling than in β-Sn. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations suggest that topotactic Li insertion into the clathrate lattice is not favorable due to the high energy of the Li sites, which is consistent with the experimentally observed amorphous phase transformation. The local structure in the clathrate featuring Ba atoms surrounded by a cage of Ga and Sn atoms is hypothesized to kinetically circumvent the formation of Li-Sn or Li-Ga crystalline phases, which results in better cycling and a lower reaction voltage. Based on the improved electrochemical performance, clathrates could act as tunable precursors to form amorphous Li alloying phases with novel electrochemical properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42564-42578
Number of pages15
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number36
StatePublished - Sep 15 2021


  • amorphous
  • clathrate
  • density functional theory
  • energy storage
  • lithium
  • pair distribution function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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