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Investigating Ternary Li–Mg–Si Zintl Phase Formation and Evolution for Si Anodes in Li-Ion Batteries with Mg(TFSI)2 Electrolyte Additive

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journal contribution
posted on 17.06.2021, 15:40 by Xiang Li, James A. Gilbert, Stephen E. Trask, Ritesh Uppuluri, Saul H. Lapidus, Saida Cora, Niya Sa, Zhenzhen Yang, Ira D. Bloom, Fulya Dogan, John T. Vaughey, Baris Key
Improved electrochemical performance of Si was recently reported by adding multivalent cation salts (such as Mg2+, Al3+, Ca2+, etc.) in the electrolyte. This is achieved via the formation in an in situ manner of relatively more stable Li–M–Si ternary phases with less chemical reactivity. These phases stabilize Si anions and thus reduce side reactions with electrolytes at the surface and eventually benefit the overall electrochemistry. To understand the mechanism of ternary Zintl phase formation and its dynamics upon lithiation/delithiation, high-resolution solid-state 7Li and 29Si nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) are utilized to directly probe the local Li and Si environments on Si electrodes harvested from coin and pouch cells at various states of (de)­lithiation. The NMR spectra along with the electrochemical characterization reveal that lithiation of Si starts from the surface Si–O layer further confirmed by 7Li–29Si cross-polarization NMR. Lithiation progresses with heterogeneous silicon clustering with Si–4 anions at high states of lithiation. At a fully lithiated state, the formation of overlithiated Si species is detected. At a low-voltage region (below 100 mV), direct evidence for Mg-ion insertion is found, postulated by two possible mechanisms: ion exchange with fully or overlithiated binary domains (Li3.75+xSi) and/or a coinsertion with slightly underlithiated domains (∼Li3.55Si). Upon delithiation, Li extraction starts from overlithiated Si domains. No evidence is found for electrochemical Mg removal. Evidence for a lithium-deficient LiyMg0.1Si phase is found as a result of Li removal during charging. This investigation sheds light on the possible mechanisms of a new Si anode chemistry, which could enable the development of stable Si-based anodes for lithium-ion batteries.

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