The lithiation process and Li diffusion in amorphous

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Journal Article

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Silicon is considered the next-generation, high-capacity anode for Li-ion energy storage applications, however, despite significant effort, there are still uncertainties regarding the bulk Si and surface SiO2 structural and chemical evolution as it undergoes lithiation and amorphization. In this paper, we present first-principles calculations of the evolution of the amorphous Si anode, including its oxide surface layer, as a function of Li concentration. We benchmark our methodology by comparing the results for the Si bulk to existing experimental evidence of local structure evolution, ionic diffusivity as well as electrochemical activity. Recognizing the important role of the surface Si oxide (either native or artificially grown), we undertake the same calculations for amorphous SiO2, analyzing its potential impact on the activity of Si anode materials. Derived voltage curves for the amorphous phases compare well to experimental results, highlighting that SiO2 lithiates at approximately 0.7 V higher than Si in the low Li concentration regime, which provides an important electrochemical fingerprint. The combined evidence suggests that i) the inherent diffusivity of amorphous Si is high (in the order 109cm2s1 - 107cm2s1), ii) SiO2 is thermodynamically driven to lithiate, such that LieO local environments are increasingly favored as compared to SieO bonding, iii) the ionic diffusivity of Li in LiySiO2 is initially two orders of magnitude lower than that of LiySi at low Li concentrations but increases rapidly with increasing Li content and iv) the final lithiation product of SiO2 is Li2O and highly lithiated silicides. Hence, this work suggests that - excluding explicit interactions with the electrolyte - the SiO2 surface layer presents a kinetic impediment for the lithiation of Si and a sink for Li inventory, resulting in non-reversible capacity loss through strong local LieO bond formation


Electrochimica Acta



Year of Publication