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Chemistry of Electrolyte Reduction on Lithium Silicide

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journal contribution
posted on 07.05.2019, 00:00 by Yun Xu, Kevin Wood, Jaclyn Coyle, Chaiwat Engtrakul, Glenn Teeter, Conrad Stoldt, Anthony Burrell, Andriy Zakutayev
Silicon anodes are promising for next-generation lithium-ion batteries due to high theoretical capacity. However, their performance and lifetime are currently limited by continuous electrolyte reduction and solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI) formation. Thus, SEI studies are important but often complicated due to the rough morphology of samples, buried interfaces, and the presence of binders. Here, we demonstrate the chemical origin of SEI formation by electrolyte reduction on lithium silicide thin films, synthesized by the diffusion of pure evaporated lithium into smooth sputtered silicon. These model samples allowed for the accurate estimation of irreversible capacity loss due to electrolyte reduction and for the precise characterization of the resulting SEI by vibrational and photoelectron spectroscopies. Spectroscopic characterizations showed clear evidence that lithium silicide reduced electrolyte directly upon contact. Negligible first-cycle irreversible capacity loss was observed for lithium silicide compared to that for silicon, indicating that the decomposition product of electrolyte on lithium silicide is able to stop further electrolyte reduction to a large extent. Fluoro-ethylene carbonate was shown to significantly affect the chemistry of electrolyte reduction on lithium silicide and subsequent cycling performance. The results of this basic study reveal the chemistry occurring at the interface of the lithium silicide and electrolyte and help in understanding the limited calendar lifetime of Li-ion batteries with Si anodes.