Indexed on: 29 Jul '16Published on: 25 Jul '16Published in: Electrochemica Acta
Electrodeposited crystalline Cu2Sb thin films are studied to evaluate the use of these electrodes as model systems for studying Cu2Sb as a lithium ion battery anode material. The films have been characterized with an emphasis on determining the film quality and relating the structure, composition, and morphology to the resulting electrochemical and morphological transformations that occur during electrochemical lithiation and delithiation. It is shown that electrodeposition can produce high quality films that are devoid of major defects and can be used to provide mechanistic insight on the electrochemistry of reversible lithium alloying. The CuxSb films show that the fundamental reaction mechanism remains largely unchanged for copper concentrations of 1 > x > 3. For the first time we show that the copper concentration greatly affects critical criteria for anode materials such as the initial coulombic efficiency and reversible capacity of the electrode material. Voltage limit experiments show that an overpotential is required to remove trapped lithium states. Additional ex-situ experiments reveal that internal strain created during the lithiation process is relieved by buckling, greatly altering the film surface area and geometry, and resulting in the formation of cracks upon delithiation. This process is only semi-reversible, and strained areas remain visible even when discharged outside the voltage window of Cu2Sb determined by differential capacity plots. The results presented here indicate that these electroplated thin films are useful as analytical tools for showing pathways to improving the performance and fundamental understanding of alloy based lithium-ion battery anodes.