Breathing and oscillating growth of solid-electrolyte-interphase upon electrochemical cycling†
We report the first direct experimental evidence of the dynamic behavior of the solid-electrolyte-interphase (SEI) on copper electrodes upon electrochemical cycling. Synchrotron-based soft X-ray absorption spectroscopy (sXAS) and time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS) consistently show that both the chemical composition and the thickness of the SEI change with electrochemical potential throughout the slow formation process. In particular, sXAS results show that the nascent carbonate species in SEI show redox reversibility and decompose during the delithiation (oxidation) process, which leads to a significant shrinking of the SEI thickness as confirmed by TOF-SIMS. Meanwhile, the carbonates also matures and become more and more inactive at every lithiation (reduction) process. These experimental observations reveal unambiguously that SEI formation is much more complicated than a simple and monotonous deposition of electrolyte decomposition product; instead, it could be an oscillating process with a breathing growth.