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The presence and stability of solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) on graphitic electrodes is vital to the performance of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). However, the formation and evolution of SEI remain the least understood area in LIBs due to its dynamic nature, complexity in chemical composition, heterogeneity in morphology, as well as lack of reliable in situ/operando techniques for accurate characterization. In addition, chemical composition and morphology of SEI are not only affected by the choice of electrolyte, but also by the nature of the electrode surface. While introduction of defects into graphitic electrodes has promoted their electrochemical properties, how such structural defects influence SEI formation and evolution remains an open question. Here, utilizing nondestructive operando electrochemical atomic force microscopy (EChem-AFM) the dynamic SEI formation and evolution on a pair of representative graphitic materials with and without defects, namely, highly oriented pyrolytic and disordered graphite electrodes, are systematically monitored and compared. Complementary to the characterization of SEI topographical and mechanical changes during electrochemical cycling by EChem-AFM, chemical analysis and theoretical calculations are conducted to provide mechanistic insights underlying SEI formation and evolution. The results provide guidance to engineer functional SEIs through design of carbon materials with defects for LIBs and beyond.


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This is the peer reviewed version of the following article:

Zhu, H., Russell, J.A., Fang, Z., Barnes, P., Li, L., Efaw, C.M., … & Xiong, H. (2021). A Comparison of Solid Electrolyte Interphase Formation and Evolution on Highly Oriented Pyrolytic and Disordered Graphite Negative Electrodes in Lithium-Ion Batteries. Small, 17(52), 2105292,

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