Design principles for electrolytes and interfaces for stable lithium-metal batteries


The future of electrochemical energy storage hinges on the advancement of science and technology that enables rechargeable batteries that utilize reactive metals as anodes. With specific capacity more than ten times that of the LiC6 anode used in present-day lithium-ion batteries, cells based on Li-metal anodes are of particular interest. Effective strategies for stabilizing the anode in such cells are now understood to be a requirement for progress on exceptional storage technologies, including Li–S and Li–O2 batteries. Multiple challenges—parasitic reactions of Li-metal with liquid electrolytes, unstable and dendritic electrodeposition, and dendrite-induced short circuits—derailed early efforts to commercialize such lithium-metal batteries. Here we consider approaches for rationally designing electrolytes and Li-metal/electrolyte interfaces for stable, dendrite-free operation of lithium-metal batteries. On the basis of fundamental understanding of the failure modes of reactive metal anodes, we discuss the key variables that govern the stability of electrodeposition at the Li anode and propose a universal framework for designing stable electrolytes and interfaces for lithium-metal batteries.

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Figure 1: Stages of dendrite growth on a planar Li metal anode.
Figure 2: Current density-scaled growth rate versus dendrite nucleate size.
Figure 3: Practiced approaches for suppressing Li dendrites.


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This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation Award No. DMR-1609125 and by the Energy Materials Center at Cornell, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, and Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Award Number DESC0001086.

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Correspondence to Lynden A. Archer.

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Competing interests

L.A.A. is a founder and holds a financial interest in NOHMs Technologies, a technology concern seeking to commercialize electrolytes and electrodes for high voltage Li-ion and high-energy Li's batteries.

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Tikekar, M., Choudhury, S., Tu, Z. et al. Design principles for electrolytes and interfaces for stable lithium-metal batteries. Nat Energy 1, 16114 (2016).

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