Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Issue 3, 2018
Previous Article Next Article

The nanoscale structure of the electrolyte–metal oxide interface

Author affiliations


Electrolyte ordering near solid surfaces is of vital importance in diverse fields, ranging from physical chemistry, to energy storage, and heterogeneous catalysis. However, experimental determination of the structure of the electrode–electrolyte interface and electric double layer is challenging due to limited experimental approaches. In this work we show a detailed picture of the electrode–electrolyte interface relevant to Li-ion batteries. Specifically, we probe the atomic-scale interfacial structure of a non-aqueous liquid electrolyte solution of ethylene carbonate (EC) and dimethyl carbonate (DMC) containing lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6) salt via surface sensitive Ångstrom resolution X-ray reflectivity (XRR). We complement our experimental results with molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, and find good agreement between the experiment and simulation derived density profiles. The surface at open circuit voltage (OCV) induces layering of electrolyte molecules near the interface, which decays towards the bulk, and we conclude that both EC and DMC molecules in the first interfacial layer tend to adsorb parallel to the surface. With increasing salt-concentration, the layering periodicity and the degree of order increase. We discuss implications of our results to Li-ion batteries, with focus on the relation between interfacial structure and ion transport in and out of the electrode.

Graphical abstract: The nanoscale structure of the electrolyte–metal oxide interface

Back to tab navigation

Associated articles

Supplementary files

Article information

21 Sep 2017
22 Jan 2018
First published
24 Jan 2018

Energy Environ. Sci., 2018,11, 594-602
Article type

The nanoscale structure of the electrolyte–metal oxide interface

H. Steinrück, C. Cao, Y. Tsao, C. J. Takacs, O. Konovalov, J. Vatamanu, O. Borodin and M. F. Toney, Energy Environ. Sci., 2018, 11, 594
DOI: 10.1039/C7EE02724A

Social activity

Search articles by author