Insights into lithium ion deposition on lithium metal surfaces
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Lithium metal is among the most promising anodes for the next generation of batteries due to its high theoretical energy density and high capacity. Challenges such as extreme reactivity and lithium dendrite formation have kept lithium metal anodes away from practical applications. However, the underlying mechanisms of Li ion deposition from the electrolyte solution onto the anode surface are still poorly understood due to their inherent complexity. In this work, density functional theory calculations and thermodynamic integration via constrained molecular dynamics simulations are conducted to study the electron and ion transfer between lithium metal slab and the electrolyte in absence of an external field. We explore the effect of the solvent chemistry and structure, distance of the solvated complex from the surface, anion-cation separation, and concentration of Li-salts on the deposition of lithium ions from the electrolyte phase onto the surface. Ethylene carbonate (EC), 1,2-dimethoxyethane (DME), 1,3-dioxolane (DOL), and mixtures of them are used as solvents. These species compete with the salt anion and the Li cation for electron transfer from the surface. It is found that the structure and properties of the solvation shell around the lithium cation has a great influence on the ability of the cation to diffuse as well as on its surrounding electron environment. DME molecules allow easier motion of the lithium ion compared with EC and DOL molecules. The slow growth approach allows the study of energy barriers for the ion diffusion and desolvation during the deposition pathway. This method helps elucidating the underlying mechanisms on lithium-ion deposition and provides a better understanding of the early stages of Li nucleation.
author list (cited authors)
Angarita-Gomez, S., & Balbuena, P. B.