Philippe, B.; Dedryvere, R.; Allouche, J.; Lindgren, F.; Gorgoi, M.; Rensmo, H.; Gonbeau, D.; Edström, K.: Nanosilicon Electrodes for Lithium-Ion Batteries: Interfacial Mechanisms Studied by Hard and Soft X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy. Chemistry of Materials 24 (2012), p. 1107-1115

Largely based on its very high rechargeable capacity, silicon appears as an ideal candidate for the next generation of negative electrodes for Li-ion batteries. However, a crucial problem with silicon is the large volume expansion undergone upon alloying with lithium, which results in stability problems. Means to avoid such problems is largely linked to the understanding of the interfacial chemistry during charging/discharging. This is especially of great importance when using nanometric silicon particles. In this work, the interfacial mechanisms (reaction of surface oxide, Li-Si alloying process, passivation layer formation) accompanying lithium insertion/extraction into Si/C/CMC composite electrodes have been scrutinized by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). A thorough non-destructive depthresolved analysis was carried out by using both soft X-rays (100-800 eV) and hard X-rays (2000-7000 eV) from two different synchrotron facilities compared with in-house XPS (1487 eV). The unique combination utilizing hard and soft x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy accompanied with variation of the analysis depth allowed us to access interfacial phase transitions at the surface of silicon particles as well as the composition and thickness of the SEI (electrode/electrolyte interface layer).