The influence of FEC on the solvation structure and reduction reaction of LiPF6/EC electrolytes and its implication for solid electrolyte interphase formation
Fluoroethylene carbonate (FEC) has been proposed as an effective electrolyte additive that enhances the stability and elasticity of the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) of emerging Si and Li metal anodes. However, uncertainties still remain on the exact mechanism through which FEC alters the electrolyte decomposition and SEI formation process. Herein, the influence of FEC on LiPF6/ethylene carbonate (EC) electrolytes for Si anodes is investigated through classical molecular dynamics, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, and quantum chemical calculations. Albeit a minority species, FEC is found to significantly modify the solvation structure and reduction behavior of the electrolyte while being innocuous to transport properties. Even with limited 10% of FEC, the Li+ solvation structure exhibits a notably higher contact-ion pair ratio (14%) than the parent EC electrolyte (6%). Moreover, FEC itself, as a new fluorine-containing species, appears in 1/5 of the Li+ solvation shells. The Li+- coordinated FEC is found to reduce prior to EC and uncoordinated FEC which will passivate the anode surface at an early onset (ca. 0.3 V higher than EC) by forming LiF. The critical role of FEC in tailoring the Li+ solvation structure and as-formed protective SEI composition provides mechanistic insight that will aid in the rational design of novel electrolytes.