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Citric acid and its analogues have been investigated as surface-modifying agents for Si nanoparticle anodes using electrochemical cycling, attenuated total reflectance infrared (ATR IR), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). A Si nanoparticle anode prepared with citric acid (CA) has better capacity retention than one containing 1,2,3,4-butanetetracarboxylic acid (BA), but both electrodes outperform Si-PVDF. The Si-CA anode has an initial specific capacity of 3530 mA h/g and a first cycle efficiency of 82%. Surprisingly, the Si-CA electrode maintains a high specific capacity of ∼2200 mA h/g after 250 cycles, corresponding to 64% capacity retention, which is similar to the Si prepared with long-chain poly(acrylic acid) (PAA). On the contrary, the silicon electrode prepared with PVDF has a fast capacity fade and retains only 980 mA h/g after 50 cycles. The IR and XPS data show that the Si-CA electrode has an SEI composed primarily of lithium citrate during the first 50 cycles, resulting from the electrochemical reduction of citric acid. Only low concentrations of electrolyte reduction products are observed. The lithium citrate layer derived from CA stabilizes the silicon surface and suppresses electrolyte reduction, which likely contributes to the enhanced cycling performance of the Si nanoparticle anode.

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