The cycle life and energy density of rechargeable metal batteries are largely limited by the dendritic growth of their metal anodes (lithium, sodium or zinc). Here we develop a three-dimensional cross-linked polyethylenimine lithium-ion-affinity sponge as the lithium metal anode host to mitigate the problem. We show that electrokinetic surface conduction and electro-osmosis within the high-zeta-potential sponge change the concentration and current density profiles, which enables dendrite-free plating/stripping of lithium with a high Coulombic efficiency at high deposition capacities and current densities, even at low temperatures. The use of a lithium-hosting sponge leads to a significantly improved cycling stability of lithium metal batteries with a limited amount of lithium (for example, the areal lithium ratio of negative to positive electrodes is 0.6) at a commercial-level areal capacity. We also observed dendrite-free morphology in sodium and zinc anodes, which indicates a broader promise of this approach.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $8.25 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
Kim, H. et al. Metallic anodes for next generation secondary batteries. Chem. Soc. Rev. 42, 9011–9034 (2013).
Tarascon, J. M. & Armand, M. Issues and challenges facing rechargeable lithium batteries. Nature 414, 359–367 (2001).
Xu, K. Nonaqueous liquid electrolytes for lithium-based rechargeable batteries. Chem. Rev. 104, 4303–4417 (2004).
Xu, W. et al. Lithium metal anodes for rechargeable batteries. Energy Environ. Sci. 7, 513–537 (2014).
Liu, Y. Y. et al. An artificial solid electrolyte interphase with high Li-ion conductivity, mechanical strength, and flexibility for stable lithium metal anodes. Adv. Mater. 29, 1605531 (2017).
Zhu, B. et al. Poly(dimethylsiloxane) thin film as a stable interfacial layer for high-performance lithium-metal battery anodes. Adv. Mater. 29, 1603755 (2017).
Zheng, G. et al. Interconnected hollow carbon nanospheres for stable lithium metal anodes. Nat. Nanotech. 9, 618–623 (2014).
Liang, X. et al. A facile surface chemistry route to a stabilized lithium metal anode. Nat. Energy 2, 17119 (2017).
Li, G. X. et al. Organosulfide-plasticized solid-electrolyte interphase layer enables stable lithium metal anodes for long-cycle lithium-sulfur batteries. Nat. Commun. 8, 850 (2017).
Zheng, J. M. et al. Electrolyte additive enabled fast charging and stable cycling lithium metal batteries. Nat. Energy 2, 17012 (2017).
Li, G. X. et al. Self-formed hybrid interphase layer on lithium metal for high-performance lithium-sulfur batteries. ACS Nano 12, 1500–1507 (2018).
Qian, J. et al. High rate and stable cycling of lithium metal anode. Nat. Commun. 6, 6362 (2015).
Suo, L. M. et al. A new class of solvent-in-salt electrolyte for high-energy rechargeable metallic lithium batteries. Nat. Commun. 4, 1481 (2013).
Fan, L. et al. Stable lithium electrodeposition at ultra-high current densities enabled by 3D PMF/Li composite anode. Adv. Energy Mater. 8, 1703360 (2018).
Cheng, X.-B. et al. Dendrite-free lithium deposition induced by uniformly distributed lithium ions for efficient lithium metal batteries. Adv. Mater. 28, 2888–2895 (2016).
Liang, Z. et al. Polymer nanofiber-guided uniform lithium deposition for battery electrodes. Nano. Lett. 15, 2910–2916 (2015).
Lin, D. et al. Layered reduced graphene oxide with nanoscale interlayer gaps as a stable host for lithium metal anodes. Nat. Nanotech. 11, 626–632 (2016).
Liu, Y. Y. et al. Lithium-coated polymeric matrix as a minimum volume-change and dendrite-free lithium metal anode. Nat. Commun. 7, 10992 (2016).
Brady, R. M. & Ball, R. C. Fractal growth of copper electrodeposits. Nature 309, 225–229 (1984).
Bazant, M. Z. Regulation of ramified electrochemical growth by a diffusive wave. Phys. Rev. E 52, 1903–1914 (1995).
Sand, H. J. S. III. On the concentration at the electrodes in a solution, with special reference to the liberation of hydrogen by electrolysis of a mixture of copper sulphate and sulphuric acid. Philos. Mag. 1, 45–79 (1901).
Yang, C.-P. et al. Accommodating lithium into 3D current collectors with a submicron skeleton towards long-life lithium metal anodes. Nat. Commun. 6, 8058 (2015).
Yun, Q. B. et al. Chemical dealloying derived 3D porous current collector for Li metal anodes. Adv. Mater. 28, 6932–6939 (2016).
Ye, H. et al. Stable Li plating/stripping electrochemistry realized by a hybrid Li reservoir in spherical carbon granules with 3D conducting skeletons. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 139, 5916–5922 (2017).
Zuo, T. T. et al. Graphitized carbon fibers as multifunctional 3D current collectors for high areal capacity Li anodes. Adv. Mater. 29, 1700389 (2017).
Stone, H. A., Stroock, A. D. & Ajdari, A. Engineering flows in small devices: microfluidics toward a lab-on-a-chip. Annu. Rev. Fluid Mech. 36, 381–411 (2004).
Dydek, E. V. & Bazant, M. Z. Nonlinear dynamics of ion concentration polarization in porous media: the leaky membrane model. AIChE J. 59, 3539–3555 (2013).
Dydek, E. V. et al. Overlimiting current in a microchannel. Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 118301 (2011).
Delgado, A. V. et al. Measurement and interpretation of electrokinetic phenomena. J. Colloid Interf. Sci. 309, 194–224 (2007).
Chatterjee, S., Sen Gupta, S. & Kumaraswamy, G. Omniphilic polymeric sponges by ice templating. Chem. Mater. 28, 1823–1831 (2016).
Rajamanickam, R. et al. Soft colloidal scaffolds capable of elastic recovery after large compressive strains. Chem. Mater. 26, 5161–5168 (2014).
Buhai, B., Binser, T. & Kimmich, R. Electroosmotic flow, ionic currents, and pressure-induced flow in microsystem channel networks: NMR mapping and computational fluid dynamics simulations. Appl. Magn. Reson. 32, 25–49 (2007).
This material is based on work supported by the Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Vehicle Technology Office, under Award no. DE-EE0007795 (experimental work) and DE-EE0007803 (modelling work). The authors appreciate T. Stecko at The Pennsylvania State University for the analysis of MCT data.
The authors declare no competing interests
Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Supplementary Figures 1–40, Supplementary Tables 1–3, Supplementary Notes 1–2, Supplementary References
The MCT data of 3D PPS shows that the pores in 3D PPS have a high interconnectivity. The interconnected pores account for 99.99% of the total pore volume. Red represents isolated pores and white represents sponge walls in the video. The free-standing and thick 3D PPS samples were prepared using the same experimental conditions with 3D PPS@Cu for the characterization
The electro-osmosis pumps the electrolyte to flow from negative to positive through the cross-linked branched PEI modified plastic microtube (inner diameter: 850 µm, length: 1.8 cm). The movie speed is quadrupled
The un-modified plastic microtube (inner diameter: 850 µm, length: 1.8 cm) cannot provide the electro-osmosis. The movie speed is quadrupled
About this article
Cite this article
Li, G., Liu, Z., Huang, Q. et al. Stable metal battery anodes enabled by polyethylenimine sponge hosts by way of electrokinetic effects. Nat Energy 3, 1076–1083 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-018-0276-z
Improving Cyclability of Lithium Metal Anode via Constructing Atomic Interlamellar Ion Channel for Lithium Sulfur Battery
Nanoscale Research Letters (2021)
Nano Research (2021)
Highly efficient lithium utilization in lithium metal full-cell by simulated missile guidance and confinement systems
Science China Materials (2021)
Biomacromolecules enabled dendrite-free lithium metal battery and its origin revealed by cryo-electron microscopy
Nature Communications (2020)