skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, May 23 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, May 24 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: Preventing Electrolyte Decomposition on a Ca Metal Electrode Interface Using an Artificial Solid‐Electrolyte Interphase

Calcium ion batteries are gaining attention as alternatives to lithium‐ion technology because they offer comparable properties at reduced cost and improved safety. However, progress has been limited because of the inability to efficiently and reversibly plate and strip Ca metal anodes in organic electrolytes. Moreover, the inorganic components of the solid‐electrolyte interphase (SEI) that form via decomposition of the electrolyte often do not allow for the diffusion of Ca ions. In this work, an approach combining density functional theory and ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) simulations is utilized to show that the use of a preformed artificial SEI layer of amorphous can potentially prevent electrolyte decomposition. First, Ca is shown to be able to intercalate into an amorphous layer (up to Ca1.5Al2O3) and diffuse through on a reasonable time scale. Through calculation of the density of states, the system is found to remain insulating up to the equilibrium stoichiometry. Finally, AIMD simulations with a realistic organic electrolyte environment are used to show that this calcinated layer completely prevents the decomposition of solvent molecules. This approach can provide a route to efficient rechargeable Ca ion batteries, paving the way for cheap large‐scale energy storage.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Advanced Theory and Simulations
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    The discovery of liquid battery electrolytes that facilitate the formation of stable solid electrolyte interphases (SEIs) to mitigate dendrite formation is imperative to enable lithium anodes in next‐generation energy‐dense batteries. Compared to traditional electrolyte solvents, tetrahydrofuran (THF)‐based electrolyte systems have demonstrated great success in enabling high‐stability lithium anodes by encouraging the decomposition of anions (instead of organic solvent) and thus generating inorganic‐rich SEIs. Herein, by employing a variety of different lithium salts (i.e., LiPF6,LiTFSI, LiFSI, and LiDFOB), it is demonstrated that electrolyte anions modulate the inorganic composition and resulting properties of the SEI. Through novel analytical time‐of‐flight secondary‐ion mass spectrometry methods, such as hierarchical clustering of depth profiles and compositional analysis using integrated yields, the chemical composition and morphology of the SEIs generated from each electrolyte system are examined. Notably, the LiDFOB electrolyte provides an exceptionally stable system to enable lithium anodes, delivering >1500 cycles at a current density of 0.5 mAh g−1and a capacity of 0.5 mAh g−1in symmetrical cells. Furthermore, Li//LFP cells using this electrolyte demonstrate high‐rate, reversible lithium storage, supplying 139 mAh g(LFP)−1at C/2 (≈0.991 mAh cm−2, @ 0.61 mA cm−2) with 87.5% capacity retention over 300 cycles (average Coulombic efficiency >99.86%).

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    The 3D nanocomposite structure of plated lithium (LiMetal) and solid electrolyte interphases (SEI), including a polymer‐rich surficial passivation layer (SEI exoskeleton) and inorganic SEI “fossils” buried inside amorphous Li matrix, is resolved using cryogenic transmission electron microscopy. With ether‐based DOLDME‐LiTFSI electrolyte, LiF and Li2O nanocrystals are formed and embedded in a thin but tough amorphous polymer in the SEI exoskeleton. The fast Li‐stripping directions are along or , which produces eight exposed {111} planes at halfway charging. Full Li stripping produces completely sagging, empty SEI husks that can sustain large bending and buckling, with the smallest bending radius of curvature observed approaching tens of nanometers without apparent damage. In the 2nd round of Li plating, a thin LiBCCsheet first nucleates at the current collector, extends to the top end of the deflated SEI husk, and then expands its thickness. The apparent zero wetting angle between LiBCCand the SEI interior means that the heterogeneous nucleation energy barrier is zero. Due to its complete‐wetting property and chemo‐mechanical stability, the SEI largely prevents further reactions between the Li metal and the electrolyte, which explains the superior performance of Li‐metal batteries with ether‐based electrolytes. However, uneven refilling of the SEI husks results in dendrite protrusions and some new SEI formation during the 2nd plating. A strategy to form bigger SEI capsules during the initial cycle with higher energy density than the following cycles enables further enhanced Coulombic efficiency to above 99%.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    The solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) forms on electrode surfaces from decomposition of the electrolyte. However, there is almost no atomistic detail of SEI formation on Li metal anode, a major obstacle in understanding the highly complex battery electrochemistry sufficiently to design high performance batteries. Herein, a realistic atomistic model (39 000 atoms) for the SEI formation at the interface between the Li metal anode and ionic liquid electrolyte using reactive molecular dynamics simulations is provided. A ≈10 nm thick SEI composed of a dense ordered inorganic layer near the Li‐metal anode and a porous organic layer near the electrolyte is found. These results provide new insights into a deeper understanding of the complex SEI that should be useful in developing a new generation of highly efficient batteries.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Alloy materials such as Si and Ge are attractive as high‐capacity anodes for rechargeable batteries, but such anodes undergo severe capacity degradation during discharge–charge processes. Compared to the over‐emphasized efforts on the electrode structure design to mitigate the volume changes, understanding and engineering of the solid‐electrolyte interphase (SEI) are significantly lacking. This work demonstrates that modifying the surface of alloy‐based anode materials by building an ultraconformal layer of Sb can significantly enhance their structural and interfacial stability during cycling. Combined experimental and theoretical studies consistently reveal that the ultraconformal Sb layer is dynamically converted to Li3Sb during cycling, which can selectively adsorb and catalytically decompose electrolyte additives to form a robust, thin, and dense LiF‐dominated SEI, and simultaneously restrain the decomposition of electrolyte solvents. Hence, the Sb‐coated porous Ge electrode delivers much higher initial Coulombic efficiency of 85% and higher reversible capacity of 1046 mAh g−1after 200 cycles at 500 mA g−1, compared to only 72% and 170 mAh g−1for bare porous Ge. The present finding has indicated that tailoring surface structures of electrode materials is an appealing approach to construct a robust SEI and achieve long‐term cycling stability for alloy‐based anode materials.

    more » « less
  5. Metal-ion batteries (e.g., lithium and sodium ion batteries) are the promising power sources for portable electronics, electric vehicles, and smart grids. Recent metal-ion batteries with organic liquid electrolytes still suffer from safety issues regarding inflammability and insufficient lifetime.1 As the next generation energy storage devices, all-solid-state batteries (ASSBs) have promising potentials for the improved safety, higher energy density, and longer cycle life than conventional Li-ion batteries.2 The nonflammable solid electrolytes (SEs), where only Li ions are mobile, could prevent battery combustion and explosion since the side reactions that cause safety issues as well as degradation of the battery performance are largely suppressed. However, their practical application is hampered by the high resistance arising at the solid–solid electrode–electrolyte interface (including cathode-electrolyte interface and anode-electrolyte interface).3 Several methods have been introduced to optimize the contact capability as well as the electrochemical/chemical stability between the metal anodes (i.e.: Li and Na) and the SEs, which exhibited decent results in decreasing the charge transfer resistance and broadening the range of the stable energy window (i.e., lowing the chemical potential of metal anode below the highest occupied molecular orbital of the SEs).4 Nevertheless, mitigation for the cathode in ASSB is tardily developed because: (1) the porous structure of the cathode is hard to be infiltrated by SEs;5 (2) SEs would be oxidized and decomposed by the high valence state elements at the surface of the cathode at high state of charge.5 Herein, we demonstrate a universal cathode design strategy to achieve superior contact capability and high electrochemical/chemical stability with SEs. Stereolithography is adopted as a manufacturing technique to realize a hierarchical three-dimensional (HTD) electrode architecture with micro-size channels, which is expected to provide larger contact areas with SEs. Then, the manufactured cathode is sintered at 700 °C in a reducing atmosphere (e.g.: H2) to accomplish the carbonization of the resin, delivering sufficiently high electronic conductivity for the cathode. To avoid the direct exposure of the cathode active materials to the SEs, oxidative chemical vapor deposition technique (oCVD) is leveraged to build conformal and highly conducting poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) on the surface of the HTD cathode.6 To demonstrate our design strategy, both NCM811 and Na3V2(PO4)3 is selected as active materials in the HTD cathode, then each cathode is paired with organic (polyacrylonitrile-based) and inorganic (sulfur-based) SEs assembled into two batteries (total four batteries). SEM and TEM reveal the micro-size HTD structure with built-in channels. Featured by the HTD architecture, the intrinsic kinetic and thermodynamic conditions will be enhanced by larger surface contact areas, more active sites, improved infusion and electrolyte ion accessibility, and larger volume expansion capability. Disclosed by X-ray computed tomography, the interface between cathode and SEs in the four modified samples demonstrates higher homogeneity at the interface between the cathode and SEs than that of all other pristine samples. Atomic force microscopy is employed to measure the potential image of the cross-sectional interface by the peak force tapping mode. The average potential of modified samples is lower than that of pristine samples, which confirms a weakened space charge layer by the enhanced contact capability. In addition, through Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy coupled with Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy, the preserved interface between HTD cathode and SE is identified; however, the decomposing of the pristine cathode is clearly observed. In addition, Finite element method simulations validate that the diffusion dynamics of lithium ions is favored by HTD structure. Such a demonstrated universal strategy provides a new guideline to engineer cathode electrolyte interface by reconstructing electrode structures that can be applicable to all solid-state batteries in a wide range of chemical conditions. 
    more » « less