Polyethylene oxide film coating enhances lithium cycling efficiency of an anode-free lithium-metal battery†
The practical implementation of an anode-free lithium-metal battery with promising high capacity is hampered by dendrite formation and low coulombic efficiency. Most notably, these challenges stem from non-uniform lithium plating and unstable SEI layer formation on the bare copper electrode. Herein, we revealed the homogeneous deposition of lithium and effective suppression of dendrite formation using a copper electrode coated with a polyethylene oxide (PEO) film in an electrolyte comprising 1 M LiTFSI, DME/DOL (1/1, v/v) and 2 wt% LiNO3. More importantly, the PEO film coating promoted the formation of a thin and robust SEI layer film by hosting lithium and regulating the inevitable reaction of lithium with the electrolyte. The modified electrode exhibited stable cycling of lithium with an average coulombic efficiency of ∼100% over 200 cycles and low voltage hysteresis (∼30 mV) at a current density of 0.5 mA cm−2. Moreover, we tested the anode-free battery experimentally by integrating it with an LiFePO4 cathode into a full-cell configuration (Cu@PEO/LiFePO4). The new cell demonstrated stable cycling with an average coulombic efficiency of 98.6% and capacity retention of 30% in the 200th cycle at a rate of 0.2C. These impressive enhancements in cycle life and capacity retention result from the synergy of the PEO film coating, high electrode–electrolyte interface compatibility, stable polar oligomer formation from the reduction of 1,3-dioxolane and the generation of SEI-stabilizing nitrite and nitride upon lithium nitrate reduction. Our result opens up a new route to realize anode-free batteries by modifying the copper anode with PEO to achieve ever more demanding yet safe interfacial chemistry and control of dendrite formation.