In Situ Measurement of the Plane-Strain Modulus of the Solid Electrolyte Interphase on Lithium-Metal Anodes in Ionic Liquid Electrolytes

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We present an experimental approach for in situ measurement of elastic modulus of the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI), which is formed from reactions between a lithium thin-film [on a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) substrate] and a room-temperature ionic liquid (RTIL) electrolyte. The SEI forms under a state of compressive stress, which causes buckling of the sample surface. In situ atomic force microscopy is used to measure the dominant wavelength of the wrinkled surface topography. A mechanics analysis of strain-induced elastic buckling instability of a stiff thin film on a soft substrate is used to determine the plane strain modulus of the SEI from the measured wavelength. The measurements are performed for three RTIL electrolytes: 1-butyl 1-methylpiperidinium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide (P14 TFSI) without any lithium salt, 1.0 M lithium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide (Li TFSI) in P14 TFSI, and 1.0 M lithium bis(fluorosulfonyl)imide (Li FSI) in P14 TFSI to investigate the influence of lithium salts on the plane strain modulus of the SEI. The measurements yield plane-strain moduli of approximately 1.3 GPa for no-salt P14 TFSI and approximately 1.6 GPa for 1.0 M Li TFSI in P14 TFSI and 1.0 M Li FSI in P14 TFSI. The experimental technique presented here eliminates some of the uncertainties associated with traditional SEI mechanical characterization approaches and offers a platform to engineer an SEI with desired mechanical properties by approaches that include altering the electrolyte composition.

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Nano Letters