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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Strategies towards enabling lithium metal in batteries: interphases and electrodes


Despite the continuous increase in capacity, lithium-ion intercalation batteries are approaching their performance limits. As a result, research is intensifying on next-generation battery technologies. The use of a lithium metal anode promises the highest theoretical energy density and enables use of lithium-free or novel high-energy cathodes. However, the lithium metal anode suffers from poor morphological stability and Coulombic efficiency during cycling, especially in liquid electrolytes. In contrast to solid electrolytes, liquid electrolytes have the advantage of high ionic conductivity and good wetting of the anode, despite the lithium metal volume change during cycling. Rapid capacity fade due to inhomogeneous deposition and dissolution of lithium is the main hindrance to the successful utilization of the lithium metal anode in combination with liquid electrolytes. In this perspective, we discuss how experimental and theoretical insights can provide possible pathways for reversible cycling of two-dimensional lithium metal. Therefore, we discuss improvements in the understanding of lithium metal nucleation, deposition, and stripping on the nanoscale. As the solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI) plays a key role in the lithium morphology, we discuss how the proper SEI design might allow stable cycling. We highlight recent advances in conventional and (localized) highly concentrated electrolytes in view of their respective SEIs. We also discuss artificial interphases and three-dimensional host frameworks, which show prospects of mitigating morphological instabilities and suppressing large shape change on the electrode level.

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