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Chemical Evolution in Silicon–Graphite Composite Anodes Investigated by Vibrational Spectroscopy

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journal contribution
posted on 24.05.2018, 16:39 by Rose E. Ruther, Kevin A. Hays, Seong Jin An, Jianlin Li, David L. Wood, Jagjit Nanda
Silicon–graphite composites are under development for the next generation of high-capacity lithium-ion anodes, and vibrational spectroscopy is a powerful tool to identify the different mechanisms that contribute to performance loss. With alloy anodes, the underlying causes of cell failure are significantly different in half-cells with lithium metal counter electrodes compared to full cells with standard cathodes. However, most studies which take advantage of vibrational spectroscopy have only examined half-cells. In this work, a combination of FTIR and Raman spectroscopy describes several factors that lead to degradation in full pouch cells with LiNi0.5Mn0.3Co0.2O2 (NMC532) cathodes. The spectroscopic signatures evolve after longer term cycling compared to the initial formation cycles. Several side-reactions that consume lithium ions have clear FTIR signatures, and comparison to a library of reference compounds facilitates identification. Raman microspectroscopy combined with mapping shows that the composite anodes are not homogeneous but segregate into graphite-rich and silicon-rich phases. Lithiation does not proceed uniformly either. A basis analysis of Raman maps identifies electrochemically inactive regions of the anodes. The spectroscopic results presented here emphasize the importance of improving electrode processing and SEI stability to enable practical composite anodes with high silicon loadings.

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