Dopant-vacancy binding effects in Li-doped magnesium hydride

Kyle C. Smith, Timothy S. Fisher, Umesh V. Waghmare, Ricardo Grau-Crespo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We use a combination of ab initio calculations and statistical mechanics to investigate the substitution of Li+ for Mg2+ in magnesium hydride (MgH2) accompanied by the formation of hydrogen vacancies with positive charge (with respect to the original ion at the site). We show that the binding energy between dopants and vacancy defects leads to a significant fraction of trapped vacancies and therefore a dramatic reduction in the number of free vacancies available for diffusion. The concentration of free vacancies initially increases with dopant concentration but reaches a maximum at around 1 mol% Li doping and slowly decreases with further doping. At the optimal level of doping, the corresponding concentration of free vacancies is much higher than the equilibrium concentrations of charged and neutral vacancies in pure MgH2 at typical hydrogen storage conditions. We also show that Li-doped MgH2 is thermodynamically metastable with respect to phase separation into pure magnesium and lithium hydrides at any significant Li concentration, even after considering the stabilization provided by dopant-vacancy interactions and configurational entropic effects. Our results suggest that lithium doping may enhance hydrogen diffusion hydride but only to a limited extent determined by an optimal dopant concentration and conditioned to the stability of the doped phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number134109
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number13
StatePublished - Oct 11 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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