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The Chemistry of Electrolyte Reduction on Silicon Electrodes Revealed by in Situ ATR-FTIR Spectroscopy


While silicon is the most promising next-generation anode material for lithium-ion batteries (LIBs), silicon electrodes exhibit significant capacity fade with cycling. A common hypothesis is that the capacity loss is due to the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) forming in the first cycle and becoming destabilized by large cyclic volume changes. A cell for in situ attenuated total reflection-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy with controllable penetration depth was used to study the chemistry at the electrode-electrolyte interface. The SEI product precursors at the interface were successfully identified and differentiated from free or solvated solvent molecules in the bulk electrolyte. Intriguingly, for the most common electrolyte consisting of ethylene carbonate and diethyl carbonate, ethylene carbonate was found to directly reduce to lithium ethylene dicarbonate on the lithiated silicon surface and diethyl carbonate to selectively reduce to diethyl 2,5-dioxahexane dicarboxylate on the surface of the native silicon-oxide film. Understanding this surface dependence of the SEI composition is critical to tuning the silicon electrode surface condition and, ultimately, enhancing the performance of future LIBs. (Figure Presented).

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