Formation of Reversible Solid Electrolyte Interface on Graphite Surface from Concentrated Electrolytes

by Lu, Dongping; Tao, Jinhui; Yan, Pengfei; Henderson, Wesley A.; Li, Qiuyan; Shao, Yuyan; Helm, Monte L.; Borodin, Oleg; Graff, Gordon L.; Polzin, Bryant; Wang, Chong-Min; Engelhard, Mark H.; Zhang, Ji-Guang; De Yoreo, James J.; Liu, Jun; Xiao, Jie

Li-ion batteries (LIB) have been successfully commercialized after the identification of ethylene-carbonate (EC)-containing electrolyte that can form a stable solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) on carbon anode surface to passivate further side reactions but still enable the transportation of the Li+ cation. These electrolytes are still utilized, with only minor changes, after three decades. However, the long-term cycling of LIB leads to continuous consumption of electrolyte and growth of SEI layer on the electrode surface, which limits the battery's life and performance. Herein, a new anode protection mechanism is reported in which, upon changing of the cell potential, the electrolyte components at the electrode-electrolyte interface reorganize reversibly to form a transient protective surface layers on the anode. This layer will disappear after the applied potential is removed so that no permanent SEI layer is required to protect the carbon anode. This phenomenon minimizes the need for a permanent SEI layer and prevents its continuous growth and therefore may lead to largely improved performance for LIBs.

Nano Letters
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