Gradient Polarity Solvent Wash for Separation and Analysis of Electrolyte Decomposition Products on Electrode Surfaces
The solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) formed during the cycling of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) by decomposition of electrolyte molecules has key impact on device performance. However, the detailed decomposition process and distribution of products remain a mystery due to the wide variety of electrochemical pathways and the lack of facile analytical methods for chemical characterization of SEIs. In this report, a gradient polarity solvent wash technique involving the use of solvents with gradually increased polarities is employed to sequentially remove different SEI components from electrode surfaces. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy is utilized to characterize the SEI composition. The impacts of electrolyte additives and discharge rates over SEI formation are illustrated. This study presents a new concept of rationally controlled solvent wash technique for electrode surface analysis that can selectively remove targeted components. The findings in this study provide experimental support for the slow charge formation processes commonly employed for LIBs in industry.