Free Energy Landscape of Sodium Solvation into Graphite

Ali Kachmar, William A. Goddard

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Na is known to deliver very low energy capacity for sodium intercalation compared to Lithium. In this study, we use quantum mechanics based metadynamics simulations to obtain the free energy landscape for sodium ion intercalation from Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) solvent into graphite. We find that the lowest free energy minima from the metadynamics are associated with sodium solvated by 3 or 4 DMSO. The free energy minima of these states are activated by a free energy of solvation computed to be 0.17 eV (δ G(Na+@ (DMSO)4 - ΔG(Na+@ (DMSO)3 ~ 6.6 kBT), which in turn are the most thermodynamically stable. We observe weak interactions of sodium with graphite sheets during the unbiased and biased molecular dynamics simulations. Our simulations results suggest that solvent plays an important role in stabilizing the sodium intercalation into graphite through shielding of the sodium, and also from the interaction of the solvent with the graphite sheets. This suggests that the poor performance of Na is because the nonbonding and maybe partial covalent bonding of Na+ to the DMSO is too strong compared to insertion into the graphite. This suggests that we consider solvents containing oxygen groups that might interact with Na more compatible with the bonding of Na in the GIC, but with negative charges (i.e., charge carrier nature) attach to these groups. In order to facilitate this intercalation, we propose solvents with negatively charged groups and aromatic cores (e.g., cyclic ethers) that could allow a greater rate of anion exchange to increase Na+ mobility.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 May 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Energy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films

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