Fast galvanic lithium corrosion involving a Kirkendall-type mechanism.


Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA. [Email]


Developing a viable metallic lithium anode is a prerequisite for next-generation batteries. However, the low redox potential of lithium metal renders it prone to corrosion, which must be thoroughly understood for it to be used in practical energy-storage devices. Here we report a previously overlooked mechanism by which lithium deposits can corrode on a copper surface. Voids are observed in the corroded deposits and a Kirkendall-type mechanism is validated through electrochemical analysis. Although it is a long-held view that lithium corrosion in electrolytes involves direct charge-transfer through the lithium-electrolyte interphase, the corrosion observed here is found to be governed by a galvanic process between lithium and the copper substrate-a pathway largely neglected by previous battery corrosion studies. The observations are further rationalized by detailed analyses of the solid-electrolyte interphase formed on copper and lithium, where the disparities in electrolyte reduction kinetics on the two surfaces can account for the fast galvanic process.

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