In situ infrared nanospectroscopy of the local processes at the Li/polymer electrolyte interface

X. He, J. M. Larson, H. A. Bechtel and R. Kostecki

Nature Communications 13, 1398 (2022)
Solid-state batteries possess the potential to significantly impact energy storage industries by enabling diverse benefits, such as increased safety and energy density. However, challenges persist with physicochemical properties and processes at electrode/electrolyte interfaces. Thus, there is great need to characterize such interfaces in situ, and unveil scientific understanding that catalyzes engineering solutions. To address this, we conduct multiscale in situ microscopies (optical, atomic force, and infrared near-field) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopies (near-field nanospectroscopy and attenuated total reflection) of intact and electrochemically operational graphene/solid polymer electrolyte interfaces. We find nanoscale structural and chemical heterogeneities intrinsic to the solid polymer electrolyte initiate a cascade of additional interfacial nanoscale heterogeneities during Li plating and stripping; including Li-ion conductivity, electrolyte decomposition, and interphase formation. Moreover, our methodology to nondestructively characterize buried interfaces and interphases in their native environment with nanoscale resolution is readily adaptable to a number of other electrochemical systems and battery chemistries.