Failure Mechanisms at the Interfaces between Lithium Metal Electrodes and a Single-Ion Conducting Polymer Gel Electrolyte

Posted on 24.11.2022 - 15:04
Polymer electrolytes have the potential to enable rechargeable lithium (Li) metal batteries. However, growth of nonuniform high surface area Li still occurs frequently and eventually leads to a short-circuit. In this study, a single-ion conducting polymer gel electrolyte is operated at room temperature in symmetric Li||Li cells. We use X-ray microtomography and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) to study the cells. In separate experiments, cells were cycled at current densities of 0.1 and 0.3 mA cm–2 and short-circuits were obtained eventually after an average of approximately 240 cycles and 30 cycles, respectively. EIS reveals an initially decreasing interfacial resistance associated with electrodeposition of nonuniform Li protrusions and the concomitant increase in electrode surface area. X-ray microtomography images show that many of the nonuniform Li deposits at 0.1 mA cm–2 are related to the presence of impurities in both electrolyte and electrode phases. Protrusions are globular when they are close to electrolyte impurities but are moss-like when they appear near the impurities in the lithium metal. At long times, the interfacial resistance increases, perhaps due to additional impedance due to the formation of additional solid electrolyte interface (SEI) at the growing protrusions until the cells short. At 0.3 mA cm–2, large regions of the electrode–electrolyte interface are covered with mossy deposits. EIS reveals a decreasing interfacial resistance due to the increase in interfacial area up to short-circuit; the increase in interfacial impedance observed at the low current density is not observed. The results emphasize the importance of pure surfaces and materials on the microscopic scale and suggest that modification of interfaces and electrolyte may be necessary to enable uniform Li electrodeposition at high current densities.

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Frenck, Louise; Lennartz, Peter; Parkinson, Dilworth Y.; Winter, Martin; Balsara, Nitash P.; Brunklaus, Gunther (2022): Failure Mechanisms at the Interfaces between Lithium Metal Electrodes and a Single-Ion Conducting Polymer Gel Electrolyte. ACS Publications. Collection. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsami.2c16869
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