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Quantifying lithium loss in amorphous silicon thin-film anodes via titration-gas chromatography


Silicon with a high theoretical capacity (3,579 mAh/g) is a promising anode candidate for lithium-ion batteries. However, commercialization is still impeded by low Coulombic efficiency, caused by solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) formation and trapped lithium (Li)-silicon (Si) alloy during repeated volume change. Quantifying capacity losses from each factor is crucial to formulate rational design strategies for further improvement. In this work, titration-gas chromatography and cryogenic transmission electron microscopy are applied to characterize the evolution of trapped Li-Si alloy and SEI growth in a silicon thin-film anode. It is found that continuous growth of the SEI is the dominant factor for lithium inventory loss during cycling, with only a marginal increase in trapped Li-Si alloy. This study offers a quantitative approach to differentiate Li in the SEI from trapped Li in Li-Si alloy through a silicon thin-film anode, providing unique insights into identifying critical bottlenecks for developing Si anodes.

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