Dendrites and Pits: Untangling the Complex Behavior of Lithium Metal Anodes through Operando Video Microscopy

Top: Schematic of the synchronized electrochemical video microscopy system. Bottom: As the cell is cycled, changes in the electrode morphology can be correlated with the observed voltage trace.

Scientific Achievement

A mechanistic understanding of the complex cycling behavior of Li metal anodes has been gained by combining operando video microscopy with continuum-scale modeling of Li/Li symmetric cells.

Significance and Impact

This work demonstrates that surface morphology changes due to Li dendrite nucleation and evolution or pitting of the electrode dictate the dominant kinetic pathways and parameters that lead to observed cell potentials. These insights can be applied to study the performance of a variety of electrolytes.

Research Details

  • Experimental galvanostatic voltage traces for Li/Li symmetric cells were obtained using a custom-designed visualization cell that allowed direct observation of the electrode surface.
  • A continuum-scale model was developed from standard electrochemical theory, with an electrode kinetic model that could capture changes in the electrode morphology.

DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.6b00260

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