Lithium metal stripping mechanisms revealed through electrochemical liquid cell electron microscopy
An understanding of lithium stripping is as important as that of lithium plating to achieve significant advances in using lithium metal anodes for high-energy rechargeable batteries. However, there have been limited studies on lithium stripping compared to lithium plating. Here we report the lithium stripping mechanisms revealed through in-situ electrochemical liquid cell transmission electron microscopy (TEM). We directly observe and compare the stripping behavior of the in-situ grown lithium dendrites and lithium nanograins covered by a lithium fluoride-rich solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI). We find the sporadic lithium stripping behavior and three important modes that can describe the stripping of individual lithium deposits, regardless of their morphology: (i) symmetric stripping, (ii) surface-preferred asymmetric stripping, and (iii) interface-preferred asymmetric stripping. In addition, SEI chemical mapping with high spatial resolution shows a remarkable SEI loss at the end of the lithium metal stripping, which illustrates the importance of SEI protection in the subsequent cycles.