Electrochemical ion insertion involves coupled ion–electron transfer reactions, transport of guest species and redox of the host. The hosts are typically anisotropic solids with 2D conduction planes but can also be materials with 1D or isotropic transport pathways. These insertion compounds have traditionally been studied in the context of energy storage but also find extensive applications in electrocatalysis, optoelectronics and computing. Recent developments in operando, ultrafast and high-resolution characterization methods, as well as accurate theoretical simulation methods, have led to a renaissance in the understanding of ion-insertion compounds. In this Review, we present a unified framework for understanding insertion compounds across timescales and length scales ranging from atomic to device levels. Using graphite, transition metal dichalcogenides, layered oxides, oxyhydroxides and olivines as examples, we explore commonalities in these materials in terms of point defects, interfacial reactions and phase transformations. We illustrate similarities in the operating principles of various ion-insertion devices, ranging from batteries and electrocatalysts to electrochromics and thermal transistors, with the goal of unifying research across disciplinary boundaries.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Energy (miscellaneous)
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry