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A facile surface chemistry route to a stabilized lithium metal anode

Abstract

Lithium metal is a highly desirable anode for lithium rechargeable batteries, having the highest theoretical specific capacity and lowest electrochemical potential of all material candidates. Its most notable problem is dendritic growth upon Li plating, which is a major safety concern and exacerbates reactivity with the electrolyte. Here we report that Li-rich composite alloy films synthesized in situ on lithium by a simple and low-cost methodology effectively prevent dendrite growth. This is attributed to the synergy of fast lithium ion migration through Li-rich ion conductive alloys coupled with an electronically insulating surface component. The protected lithium is stabilized to sustain electrodeposition over 700 cycles (1,400 h) of repeated plating/stripping at a practical current density of 2 mA cm−2 and a 1,500 cycle-life is realized for a cell paired with a Li4Ti5O12 positive electrode. These findings open up a promising avenue to stabilize lithium metal with surface layers having targeted properties.

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Figure 1: Characterization of alloy-protected lithium foil.
Figure 2: XPS analysis of the film-protected lithium metal before and after Li plating.
Figure 3: Measurements of d.c. conductivity of lithium metal protected with the alloy-composite films using blocking electrodes.
Figure 4: Scanning electron microscopy and optical microscopy study of the alloy-protected lithium metal.
Figure 5: Schematic depicting the function of the alloy-protected lithium foil.
Figure 6: Electrochemical performance of protected lithium metal.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the BASF International Scientific Network for Electrochemistry and Batteries. L.F.N. also thanks NSERC for generous support via their Canada Research Chair, and Discovery Grant programs. We greatly appreciate helpful discussions with K. Zavadil, P. Bruce and J. Janek.

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Authors

Contributions

X.L. and L.F.N. designed the experimental work. X.L. performed all the physical measurements on the films and the electrochemistry on symmetric and full cells. I.R.K. and Q.P. carried out the resistivity measurements of the protective layers. M.S.S., H.H. and X.S. participated in the discussion of the data. X.L., I.R.K. and L.F.N. wrote the manuscript. L.F.N. directed the work.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Linda F. Nazar.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Liang, X., Pang, Q., Kochetkov, I. et al. A facile surface chemistry route to a stabilized lithium metal anode. Nat Energy 2, 17119 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nenergy.2017.119

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