Assessing cathode property prediction via exchange-correlation functionals with and without long-range dispersion corrections

O. Y. Long, G. Sai Gautam, and E. A. Carter; Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 23, 24726-24737 (2021)


We benchmark calculated interlayer spacings, average topotactic voltages, thermodynamic stabilities, and band gaps in layered lithium transition-metal oxides (TMOs) and their de-lithiated counterparts, which are used in lithium-ion batteries as positive electrode materials, against available experimental data. Specifically, we examine the accuracy of properties calculated within density functional theory (DFT) using eight different treatments of electron exchange-correlation: the strongly constrained and appropriately normed (SCAN) and Perdew-Burke-Ernzerhof (PBE) density functionals, Hubbard-U-corrected SCAN and PBE (i.e., SCAN+U and PBE+U), and SCAN(+U) and PBE(+U) with added long-range dispersion (D) interactions (i.e., DFT(+U)+D). van der Waals interactions are included respectively via the revised Vydrov-Van Voorhis (rVV10) for SCAN(+U) and the DFT-D3 for PBE(+U). We find that SCAN-based functionals predict larger voltages due to an underestimation of stability of the MO2 systems, while also predicting smaller interlayer spacings compared to their PBE-based counterparts. Furthermore, adding dispersion corrections to PBE has a greater effect on voltage predictions and interlayer spacings than with SCAN, indicating that DFT-SCAN – despite being a ground-state theory – fortuitously captures some short and medium-range dispersion interactions better than PBE. While SCAN-based and PBE-based functionals yield qualitatively similar band gap predictions, there is no significant quantitative improvement of SCAN-based functionals over the corresponding PBE-based versions. Finally, we expect SCAN-based functionals to yield more accurate property predictions than the respective PBE-based functionals for most TMOs, given SCAN’s stronger theoretical underpinning and better predictions of systematic trends in interlayer spacings, intercalation voltages, and band gaps obtained in this work.

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