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Nonpolar Alkanes Modify Lithium‐Ion Solvation for Improved Lithium Deposition and Stripping

Advanced Energy Materials
2019

Lithium metal batteries have been plagued by the high reactivity of lithium. Reactive additives that can passivate the lithium metal surface and limit electrolyte accessibility to a fresh lithium surface have been widely explored, but can have limited utility with continuous consumption of the additive. In this work, an alternative strategy is explored. The use of nonreactive cosolvents such as nonpolar alkanes is studied and its is shown that hexane and cyclohexane addition to ether solvents (1,3‐dioxolane and 1,2‐dimethoxyethane) halves the nucleation and growth overpotentials for lithium deposition, increases the cell coulombic efficiency, improves the lithium deposition morphology, increases the electrolyte oxidative stability (>0.2 V), and doubles the cycle life—even when compared to a widely used fluorinated ether. The nonpolar alkanes modify the lithium‐ion solvation environment and reduce the solvation free energy; hence reducing the reaction barrier for lithium deposition. Exploration of nonpolar alkanes as part of the electrolyte mixture is a promising strategy for controlling metal deposition.