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  1. Developing a deeper understanding of dynamic chemical, electronic, and morphological changes at interfaces is key to solving practical issues in electrochemical energy storage systems (EESSs). To unravel this complexity, an assortment of tools with distinct capabilities and spatiotemporal resolutions have been used to creatively visualize interfacial processes as they occur. This review highlights how electrochemical scanning probe techniques (ESPTs) such as electrochemical atomic force microscopy, scanning electrochemical microscopy, scanning ion conductance microscopy, and scanning electrochemical cell microscopy are uniquely positioned to address these challenges in EESSs. We describe the operating principles of ESPTs, focusing on the inspection of interfacial structure and chemical processes involved in Li-ion batteries and beyond. We discuss current examples, performance limitations, and complementary ESPTs. Finally, we discuss prospects for imaging improvements and deep learning for automation. We foresee that ESPTs will play an enabling role in advancing EESSs as we transition to renewable energies.

     
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  2. Na-ion batteries (NIBs) are proposed as a promising candidate for beyond Li-ion chemistries, however, a key challenge associated with NIBs is the inability to achieve intercalation in graphite anodes. This phenomenon has been investigated and is believed to arise due to the thermodynamic instability of Na-intercalated graphite. We have recently demonstrated theoretical calculations showing it is possible to achieve thermodynamically stable Na-intercalated graphene structures with a fluorine surface modifier. Here, we present experimental evidence that Na + intercalation is indeed possible in fluorinated few-layer graphene (F-FLG) structures using cyclic voltammetry (CV), ion-sensitive scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) and in situ Raman spectroscopy. SECM and Raman spectroscopy confirmed Na + intercalation in F-FLG, while CV measurements allowed us to quantify Na-intercalated F-FLG stoichiometries around NaC 14–18 . These stoichiometries are higher than the previously reported values of NaC 186 in graphite. Our experiments revealed that reversible Na + ion intercalation also requires a pre-formed Li-based SEI in addition to the surface fluorination, thereby highlighting the critical role of SEI in controlling ion-transfer kinetics in alkali-ion batteries. In summary, our findings highlight the use of surface modification and careful study of electrode-electrolyte interfaces and interphases as an enabling strategy for NIBs. 
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  3. null (Ed.)
    Alkali ion intercalation is fundamental to battery technologies for a wide spectrum of potential applications that permeate our modern lifestyle, including portable electronics, electric vehicles, and the electric grid. In spite of its importance, the Nernstian nature of the charge transfer process describing lithiation of carbon has not been described previously. Here we use the ultrathin few-layer graphene (FLG) with micron-sized grains as a powerful platform for exploring intercalation and co-intercalation mechanisms of alkali ions with high versatility. Using voltammetric and chronoamperometric methods and bolstered by density functional theory (DFT) calculations, we show the kinetically facile co-intercalation of Li + and K + within an ultrathin FLG electrode. While changes in the solution concentration of Li + lead to a displacement of the staging voltammetric signature with characteristic slopes ca. 54–58 mV per decade, modification of the K + /Li + ratio in the electrolyte leads to distinct shifts in the voltammetric peaks for (de)intercalation, with a changing slope as low as ca. 30 mV per decade. Bulk ion diffusion coefficients in the carbon host, as measured using the potentiometric intermittent titration technique (PITT) were similarly sensitive to solution composition. DFT results showed that co-intercalation of Li + and K + within the same layer in FLG can form thermodynamically favorable systems. Calculated binding energies for co-intercalation systems increased with respect to the area of Li + -only domains and decreased with respect to the concentration of –K–Li– phases. While previous studies of co-intercalation on a graphitic anode typically focus on co-intercalation of solvents and one particular alkali ion, this is to the best of our knowledge the first study elucidating the intercalation behavior of two monovalent alkali ions. This study establishes ultrathin graphitic electrodes as an enabling electroanalytical platform to uncover thermodynamic and kinetic processes of ion intercalation with high versatility. 
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