SEI formation mechanisms and Li plus dissolution in lithium metal anodes: Impact of the electrolyte composition and the electrolyte-to- anode ratio

SP Beltran and PB Balbuena, JOURNAL OF POWER SOURCES, 551, 232203 (2022).

DOI: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2022.232203

The lithium metal battery is one of today's most promising high-energy- density storage devices. Its full-scale implementation depends on solving operational and safety issues intrinsic to the Li metal high reactivity lead-ing to uncontrolled electrolyte decomposition and uneven Li deposition. In this work, we study the spontaneous formation of the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) upon contact of Li metal with the electrolyte and describe the heterogeneous SEI morphological features. Multiple electrolyte formulations based on lithium bis(fluorosulfonyl) imide (LiFSI), dimethoxyethane (DME), dimethyl carbonate (DMC), 1,2,2-tetrafluoroethyl-2,2,3,3-tetrafluoro-propyl ether (TTE) and bis(2,2,2-trifluoroethyl) ether (BTFE) are used. Findings include the description of the SEI evolution from dispersed LiO, LiS, LiN, and LiF clusters to a continuous and compact inorganic phase in which the LiO and LiF content depend on the presence of fluorine diluents. The role of the DME ether solvent helping the growth of a "wet-SEI" is compared to that of the highly unstable carbonate DMC, which decomposes into complex radical oligomers that might contribute to further electrolyte decomposition. The impact of the electrolyte-to-anode ratio on LiFSI decomposition is highlighted. Finally, we suggest the existence of a critical LiFSI concentration and electrolyte-to-anode ratio that could potentially balance the rate of electrolyte depletion and lithium consumption.

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