Hydrophobic versus Hydrophilic Interfacial Coatings on Silicon Nanoparticles Teach Us How to Design the Solid Electrolyte Interphase in Silicon-Based Li-Ion Battery Anodes

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Abstract

Herein, we evaluate the effect of covalently attached molecular coating hydrophobicity on the surface of the silicon nanoparticle (Si NP) active anode material for Li-ion batteries. The experiments are a means to identify the interfacial properties that help minimize electrochemical side reactions during cycling. Preformed coatings on the Si NP surfaces prior to electrode fabrication mimic the ionically conducting and electronically insulating properties of the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI). Hydrophilic oligomers such as polyethylene oxide (PEO) and other related structures are commonly identified as Li+-conducting components of the SEI. Here, we study the effect of such hydrophilic PEO versus hydrophobic alkyl molecular coatings on Si NP anode electrochemical performance. We also study the effect of the PEO oligomer length and the resulting effective thickness of the interfacial coating on the electrochemical performance. We find that PEO oligomers electrochemically isolate Si NPs when the PEO coating thickness approaches the electron tunneling distance of ∼2.5 nm. Surprisingly, the thickness of the PEO-based coatings has a negligible effect on their ability to minimize electrochemical side reactions as measured by Coulombic efficiency. These results reveal how the interfacial coating on silicon anode materials should differ from an operando-formed SEI layer and discuss design strategies for an ideal interfacial active material coating based on these results.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1628-1636
Number of pages9
JournalACS Applied Energy Materials
Volume4
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 22 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
©

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-78339

Keywords

  • coating materials
  • electrochemical energy storage
  • lithium-ion battery
  • silicon
  • solid electrolyte interphase
  • surface chemistry

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