Characterization of Reaction Products in the Li-O2 Battery Using Photoelectron Spectroscopy

Sammanfattning: The rechargeable Li-O2 battery has attracted interest due to its high theoretical energy density (about 10 times better than today’s Li-ion batteries). In this PhD thesis the cycling instability of the Li-O2 battery has been studied. Degradation of the battery has been followed by studying the interface between the electrodes and electrolyte and determining the chemical composition and quantity of degradation products formed after varied cycling conditions. For this in-house and synchrotron based Photoelectron Spectroscopy (PES) were used as a powerful surface sensitive technique. Using these methods quantitative and qualitative information was obtained of both amorphous and crystalline compounds. To make the most realistic studies the carbon cathode pore structure was optimised by varying the binder to carbon ratio. This was shown to have an effect on improving the discharge capacity. For Li-O2 batteries electrolyte decomposition is a major challenge. The stability of different electrolyte solvents and salts were investigated. Aprotic carbonate and ether based solvents such as PC, EC/DEC, TEGDME, and PEGDME were found to decompose during electrochemical cycling of the cells. The carbonate based electrolytes decompose to form a 5-10 nm thick surface layer on the carbon cathode during discharge which was then removed during battery charging. The degradation products of the ether based electrolytes consisted mainly of ether and carbonate based surface species. It is also shown that Li2O2 as the final discharge product of the cell is chemically reactive and decomposes carbonate and ether based solvents. The stability of lithium electrolyte salts (such as LiPF6, LiBF4, LiB(CN)4, LiBOB, and LiClO4) was also studied. The PES results revealed that all salts are unstable during the cell cycling and in contact with Li2O2. Decomposition layers thinner than 5 nm were observed on Li2O2. Furthermore, it is shown that the stability of the interface on the lithium anode is a chief issue. When compared to Li batteries (where oxygen levels are below 10 ppm) working in the presence of excess oxygen leads to the decomposition of carbonate based electrolytes to a larger degree.