Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name



Mechanical, Automotive, and Materials Engineering

First Advisor

Alpas, A.T.


Applied sciences, Degradation, In-situ, Lithium, Raman, Solid electrolyte interphase, Transmission electron microscopy




This research is aimed at developing advanced characterization methods for studying the surface and subsurface damage in Li-ion battery anodes made of polycrystalline graphite and identifying the degradation mechanisms that cause loss of electrochemical capacity. Understanding microstructural aspects of the graphite electrode degradation mechanisms during charging and discharging of Li-ion batteries is of key importance in order to design durable anodes with high capacity. An in-situ system was constructed using an electrochemical cell with an observation window, a large depth-of-field digital microscope and a micro-Raman spectrometer. It was revealed that electrode damage by removal of the surface graphite fragments of 5-10 μm size is the most intense during the first cycle that led to a drastic capacity drop. Once a solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) layer covered the electrode surface, the rate of graphite particle loss decreased. Yet, a gradual loss of capacity continued by the formation of interlayer cracks adjacent to SEI/graphite interfaces. Deposition of co-intercalation compounds, LiC 6 , Li 2 CO 3 and Li 2 O, near the crack tips caused partial closure of propagating graphite cracks during cycling and reduced the crack growth rate. Bridging of crack faces by delaminated graphite layers also retarded crack propagation. The microstructure of the SEI layer, formed by electrochemical reduction of the ethylene carbonate based electrolyte, consisted of ∼5-20 nm sized crystalline domains (containing Li 2 CO 3 , Li 2 O 2 and nano-sized graphite fragments) dispersed in an amorphous matrix. During the SEI formation, two regimes of Li-ion diffusion were identified at the electrode/electrolyte interface depending on the applied voltage scan rate ( dV/dt ). A low Li-ion diffusion coefficient ( D Li + ) at dV/dt < 0.05 mVs -1 produced a tubular SEI that uniformly covered the graphite surface and prevented damage at 25°C. At 60°C, a high D Li + formed a Li 2 CO 3 -enriched SEI and ensued a 28% increase in the battery capacity at 25°C. On correlating the microscopic information to the electrochemical performance, novel Li 2 CO 3 -coated electrodes were fabricated that were durable. The SEI formed on pre-treated electrodes reduced the strain in the graphite lattice from 0.4% (for uncoated electrodes) to 0.1%, facilitated Li-ion diffusion and hence improved the capacity retention of Li-ion batteries during long-term cycling.