To understand the origins of failure and limited cycle life in lithium-ion batteries (LIBs), it is imperative to quantitatively link capacity-fading mechanisms to electrochemical and chemical processes. This is extremely challenging in real systems where capacity is lost during each cycle to both active material loss and solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) evolution, two indistinguishable contributions in traditional electrochemical measurements. Here, we have used a model system in combination with (1) precision measurements of the overall Coulombic efficiency via electrochemical experiments and (2) x-ray reflectivity measurements of the active material losses. The model system consisted of a 515 Å thick amorphous silicon (a-Si) thin film on silicon carbide in half-cell geometry using a carbonate electrolyte with LiPF6 salt. This approach allowed us to quantify the capacity lost during each cycle due to SEI evolution. Combined with electrochemical analysis, we identify SEI growth as the major contribution to capacity fading. Specifically, the continued SEI growth results in increasing overpotentials due to increased SEI resistance, and this leads to lower extent of lithiation when the cutoff voltage is reached during lithiation. Our results suggest that SEI grows more with increased time spent at low voltages where electrolyte decomposition is favored. Finally, we extracted a proportionality constant for SEI growth following a parabolic growth law. Our methodology allows for the quantitative determination of lithium-ion loss mechanisms in LIBs by separately tracking lithium ions within the active materials and the SEI and offers a powerful method of quantitatively understanding LIB loss mechanisms.
Toward quantifying capacity losses due to solid electrolyte interphase evolution in silicon thin film batteries
Hans-Georg Steinrück, Chuntian Cao, Gabriel M. Veith, Michael F. Toney; Toward quantifying capacity losses due to solid electrolyte interphase evolution in silicon thin film batteries. J. Chem. Phys. 28 February 2020; 152 (8): 084702. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5142643
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