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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Universal chemomechanical design rules for solid-ion conductors to prevent dendrite formation in lithium metal batteries.

  • Author(s): Fu, Chengyin
  • Venturi, Victor
  • Kim, Jinsoo
  • Ahmad, Zeeshan
  • Ells, Andrew W
  • Viswanathan, Venkatasubramanian
  • Helms, Brett A
  • et al.

Dendrite formation during electrodeposition while charging lithium metal batteries compromises their safety. Although high-shear-modulus (Gs) solid-ion conductors (SICs) have been prioritized to resolve the pressure-driven instabilities that lead to dendrite propagation and cell shorting, it is unclear whether these or alternatives are needed to guide uniform lithium electrodeposition, which is intrinsically density-driven. Here, we show that SICs can be designed within a universal chemomechanical paradigm to access either pressure-driven dendrite-blocking or density-driven dendrite-suppressing properties, but not both. This dichotomy reflects the competing influence of the SIC's mechanical properties and the partial molar volume of Li+ ([Formula: see text]) relative to those of the lithium anode (GLi and VLi) on plating outcomes. Within this paradigm, we explore SICs in a previously unrecognized dendrite-suppressing regime that are concomitantly 'soft', as is typical of polymer electrolytes, but feature an atypically low [Formula: see text] that is more reminiscent of 'hard' ceramics. Li plating (1 mA cm-2; T = 20 °C) mediated by these SICs is uniform, as revealed using synchrotron hard X-ray microtomography. As a result, cell cycle life is extended, even when assembled with thin Li anodes (~30 µm) and either high-voltage NMC-622 cathodes (1.44 mAh cm-2) or high-capacity sulfur cathodes (3.02 mAh cm-2).

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