Initial Steps in PEO Decomposition on a Li Metal Electrode

Authors: Amina Mirsakiyeva, Mahsa Ebadi, C. Moyses Araujo, Daniel Brandell, Peter Broqvist, Jolla Kullgren

Poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) is the most widely used compound as a solid-state (solvent-free) polymer electrolyte for Li batteries, mainly due to its low glass transition temperature (Tg) and ability to dissolve Li salts. It is also frequently suggested that its cathodic stability renders it possible to operate with Li metal anodes in the design of high energy density storage devices. However, little is still known about the true interfacial chemistry between Li metal and PEO and how these two materials interact with each other. We are here exploring this relationship by the means of density functional theory (DFT)-based modeling. Using bulk structures and isolated PEO chains, we have found that there is a strong thermodynamic driving force to oxidize Li metal into lithium oxide (Li2O) when PEO is decomposed into C2H4 and H2, irrespectively of the PEO oligomer length. Explicit modeling of PEO on a Li(100) surface reveals that all steps in the decomposition are exothermic and that the PEO/Li metal system should have a layer of Li2O between the polymer electrolyte and the metal surface. These insights and the computational strategy adopted here could be highly useful to better tailor polymer electrolytes with favorable interfacial properties.

J. Phys. Chem. C, 2019, 123, 37, p. 22851-22857

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