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In Situ Potentiodynamic Analysis of the Electrolyte/Silicon Electrodes Interface Reactions - A Sum Frequency Generation Vibrational Spectroscopy Study

Horowitz, Yonatan, Han, Hui-Ling, Ross, Philip N., Somorjai, Gabor A.
Journal of the American Chemical Society 2016 v.138 no.3 pp. 726-729
acidity, anodes, batteries, chemical composition, electrochemistry, electrolytes, lithium, redox reactions, silicon, spectroscopy
The key factor in long-term use of batteries is the formation of an electrically insulating solid layer that allows lithium ion transport but stops further electrolyte redox reactions on the electrode surface, hence solid electrolyte interphase (SEI). We have studied a common electrolyte, 1.0 M LiPF₆/ethylene carbonate (EC)/diethyl carbonate (DEC), reduction products on crystalline silicon (Si) electrodes in a lithium (Li) half-cell system under reaction conditions. We employed in situ sum frequency generation vibrational spectroscopy (SFG-VS) with interface sensitivity in order to probe the molecular composition of the SEI surface species under various applied potentials where electrolyte reduction is expected. We found that, with a Si(100)-hydrogen terminated wafer, a Si-ethoxy (Si-OC₂H₅) surface intermediate forms due to DEC decomposition. Our results suggest that the SEI surface composition varies depending on the termination of Si surface, i.e., the acidity of the Si surface. We provide the evidence of specific chemical composition of the SEI on the anode surface under reaction conditions. This supports an electrochemical electrolyte reduction mechanism in which the reduction of the DEC molecule to an ethoxy moiety plays a key role. These findings shed new light on the formation mechanism of SEI on Si anodes in particular and on SEI formation in general.