Understanding Ultrafast Rechargeable Aluminum-Ion Battery from First-Principles

First-principles calculations are performed to gain fundamental understanding of recently developed Al/graphite battery that exhibits well-defined discharge voltage plateaus, high cycling stability, and ultrafast rate performance. Crucial issues pertaining to the unprecedented performance of the battery are understood, and key controversies in literature with respect to the geometry and gallery height of the intercalant are resolved. The stage and atomic structure of the graphite intercalation compounds (GICs) are elucidated, in line with the experimental finding. It is revealed that the intercalants tend to be inserted at relative high densities with a charging potential profile and theoretical specific capacity that agree well with the experiment. Four stable GIC configurations are identified with essentially the same chemical potential for the intercalant, giving rise to charging potential plateaus. Low diffusion energy barriers of the intercalants are found, which underlie the ultrafast (dis)charging rates of the battery.