Lithium crystallization at solid interfaces

MH Yang and YS Liu and YF Mo, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 14, 2986 (2023).

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-38757-2

Understanding the electrochemical deposition of metal anodes is critical for high-energy rechargeable batteries, among which solid-state lithium metal batteries have attracted extensive interest. A long-standing open question is how electrochemically deposited lithium-ions at the interfaces with the solid-electrolytes crystalize into lithium metal. Here, using large-scale molecular dynamics simulations, we study and reveal the atomistic pathways and energy barriers of lithium crystallization at the solid interfaces. In contrast to the conventional understanding, lithium crystallization takes multi-step pathways mediated by interfacial lithium atoms with disordered and random-closed- packed configurations as intermediate steps, which give rise to the energy barrier of crystallization. This understanding of multi-step crystallization pathways extends the applicability of Ostwald's step rule to interfacial atom states, and enables a rational strategy for lower-barrier crystallization by promoting favorable interfacial atom states as intermediate steps through interfacial engineering. Our findings open rationally guided avenues of interfacial engineering for facilitating the crystallization in metal electrodes for solid-state batteries and can be generally applicable for fast crystal growth. In solid-state lithium metal batteries, the crystallization of Li-ions deposited at interfaces remains unclear. Here, authors use molecular dynamics simulations to reveal lithium crystallization pathways and energy barriers, guiding improved interfacial engineering and accelerated crystal growth.

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