The development of large stresses during lithiation and delithiation drives mechanical and chemical degradation processes (cracking and electrolyte decomposition) in thin film silicon anodes that complicate the study of normal electrochemical and mechanical processes. To reduce these effects, lithium phosphorous oxynitride (LiPON) coatings were applied to silicon thin film electrodes. Applying a LiPON coating has two purposes. First, the coating acts as a stable artificial solid electrolyte interphase. Second, it limits mechanical degradation by retaining the electrode's planar morphology during cycling. The development of stress in LiPON-coated electrodes was monitored using substrate curvature measurements. LiPON-coated electrodes displayed highly reproducible cycle-to-cycle behavior, unlike uncoated electrodes which had poorer coulombic efficiency and exhibited a continual loss in stress magnitude with continued cycling due to film fracture. The improved mechanical stability of the coated silicon electrodes allowed for a better investigation of rate effects and variations of mechanical properties during electrochemical cycling.

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