In Situ Chemical Imaging of Solid-Electrolyte Interphase Layer Evolution in Li-S Batteries

Manjula I. Nandasiri, Luis E. Camacho-Forero, Ashleigh M. Schwarz, Vaithiyalingam Shutthanandan, Suntharampillai Thevuthasan, Perla B. Balbuena, Karl T. Mueller, Vijayakumar Murugesan

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124 Scopus citations


Parasitic reactions of electrolyte and polysulfide with the Li-anode in lithium sulfur (Li-S) batteries lead to the formation of solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI) layers, which are the major reason behind severe capacity fading in these systems. Despite numerous studies, the evolution mechanism of the SEI layer and specific roles of polysulfides and other electrolyte components are still unclear. We report an in situ X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and chemical imaging analysis combined with ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) computational modeling to gain fundamental understanding regarding the evolution of SEI layers on Li-anodes within Li-S batteries. A multimodal approach involving AIMD modeling and in situ XPS characterization uniquely reveals the chemical identity and distribution of active participants in parasitic reactions as well as the SEI layer evolution mechanism. The SEI layer evolution has three major stages: the formation of a primary composite mixture phase involving stable lithium compounds (Li2S, LiF, Li2O, etc.) and formation of a secondary matrix type phase due to cross interaction between reaction products and electrolyte components, which is followed by a highly dynamic monoanionic polysulfide (i.e., LiS5) fouling process. These new molecular-level insights into the SEI layer evolution on Li-anodes are crucial for delineating effective strategies for the development of Li-S batteries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4728-4737
Number of pages10
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 13 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Chemistry


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