Probing a Battery Electrolyte Drop with Ambient Pressure Photoelectron Spectroscopy
Operando ambient pressure photoelectron spectroscopy in realistic battery environments is a key development towards probing the functionality of the electrode/electrolyte interface in lithium-ion batteries that is not possible with conventional photoelectron spectroscopy. Here, we present the ambient pressure photoelectron spectroscopy characterization of a model electrolyte based on 1M bis(trifluoromethane)sulfonimide lithium salt in propylene carbonate. For the first time, we show ambient pressure photoelectron spectroscopy data of propylene carbonate in the liquid phase by using solvent vapor as the stabilizing environment. This enables us to separate effects from salt and solvent, and to characterize changes in electrolyte composition as a function of probing depth. While the bulk electrolyte meets the expected composition, clear accumulation of ionic species is found at the electrolyte surface. Our results show that it is possible to measure directly complex liquids such as battery electrolytes, which is an important accomplishment towards true operando studies.