Solvent oligomerization during SEI formation on model systems for Li-ion battery anodes

Hadi Tavassol, Joseph W. Buthker, Glen A. Ferguson, Larry A. Curtiss, Andrew A. Gewirth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


We report the results of electrochemical quartz crystal microbalance (EQCM), and matrix assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) time of flight (TOF) mass spectrometry (MS) measurements along with detailed calculations examining the formation of the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) on battery anode electrodes. EQCM analysis of Au and Sn surfaces in propylene carbonate (PC) and a 1:1 mixture of ethylene carbonate and dimethyl carbonate (EC:DMC) showed major irreversible mass uptake by the electrode surface especially during the first five cycles between 2 and 0.1 V vs. LiLi +. MALDI-MS on emersed electrodes showed that long chain (mz 3000 on PC) oligomerized species were present on Au surfaces in PC and EC:DMC solvents, where oligomerized species formed in PC solutions showed higher mass ratios. The repeating units of the oligomer, visible as oscillations in the MALDI-MS, vary with the type of the solvent and electrode material. Sn surfaces initially showed formation of long chain polymers, but this material was not in evidence on electrode emersed after five cycles, which likely arises as a consequence of the catalytic involvement of Sn in decomposition of initially formed species. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations of cyclic solvent molecules suggested a radical initiated polymerization mechanism and predict oligomer subunits consistent with the experimental results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)A730-A738
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 28 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Electrochemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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