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Electrochemical deposition and stripping behavior of lithium metal across a rigid block copolymer electrolyte membrane

  • Author(s): Harry, KJ
  • Liao, X
  • Parkinson, DY
  • Minor, AM
  • Balsara, NP
  • et al.
Abstract

© The Author(s) 2015. Published by ECS. Replacing the conventional graphite anode in rechargeable batteries with lithium metal results in a significant increase in energy density. However, growth of electronically conductive structures, like dendrites, from lithium anodes causes premature battery failure by short circuit. Mechanically rigid electrolytes are thought to promote smooth lithium deposition by increasing the energy required for lithium reduction at regions of high local strain, like a dendrite tip. The study reported herein used X-ray microtomography, Focused Ion Beam (FIB) milling, and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) imaging to investigate the electrochemical stripping and deposition behavior of lithium in symmetric lithium - polymer cells using a rigid polystyrene-b-poly(ethylene oxide) membrane as the electrolyte. In situ experiments show the formation of globular lithium structures that grow to puncture the polymer electrolyte membrane. They form on faceted impurity particles that are initially located at the lithium/electrolyte interface. While the impurities are uniformly distributed throughout the lithium foil in initial images, their relative concentration near the electrolyte changes as lithium is stripped from one electrode and deposited on the other. Notably, the deposited lithium is devoid of faceted impurities. This electrolytic refining of lithium could be used to prepare anodic lithium foils for batteries with improved cycle life.

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