"Lithium metal stripping beneath the solid electrolyte interphase"

Feifei Shi: Allen Pei, David Thomas Boyle, Jin Xie, Xiaoyun Yu, Xiaokun Zhang, and Yi Cui; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 08/06/18.

Additional Authors: Allen Pei, David Thomas Boyle, Jin Xie, Xiaoyun Yu, Xiaokun Zhang, and Yi Cui

Abstract:

Lithium stripping is a crucial process coupled with lithium deposition during the cycling of Li metal batteries. Lithium deposition has been widely studied, whereas stripping as a subsurface process has rarely been investigated. Here we reveal the fundamental mechanism of stripping on lithium by visualizing the interface between stripped lithium and the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI). We observed nanovoids formed between lithium and the SEI layer after stripping, which are attributed to the accumulation of lithium metal vacancies. High-rate dissolution of lithium causes vigorous growth and subsequent aggregation of voids, followed by the collapse of the SEI layer, i.e., pitting. We systematically measured the lithium polarization behavior during stripping and find that the lithium cation diffusion through the SEI layer is the rate-determining step. Nonuniform sites on typical lithium surfaces, such as grain boundaries and slip lines, greatly accelerated the local dissolution of lithium. The deeper understanding of this buried interface stripping process provides beneficial clues for future lithium anode and electrolyte design.