Lithium metal is the ideal anode for the next generation of high-energy-density batteries. Nevertheless, dendrite growth, side reactions and infinite relative volume change have prevented it from practical applications. Here, we demonstrate a promising metallic lithium anode design by infusing molten lithium into a polymeric matrix. The electrospun polyimide employed is stable against highly reactive molten lithium and, via a conformal layer of zinc oxide coating to render the surface lithiophilic, molten lithium can be drawn into the matrix, affording a nano-porous lithium electrode. Importantly, the polymeric backbone enables uniform lithium stripping/plating, which successfully confines lithium within the matrix, realizing minimum volume change and effective dendrite suppression. The porous electrode reduces the effective current density; thus, flat voltage profiles and stable cycling of more than 100 cycles is achieved even at a high current density of 5 mA cm −2 in both carbonate and ether electrolyte. The advantages of the porous, polymeric matrix provide important insights into the design principles of lithium metal anodes.
Lithium metal is a promising anode for batteries, but problems such as volume change and dendrite growth currently prevent it from practical usage. Here, the authors overcome these problems by infusing molten lithium into a polymeric matrix via a lithiophilic coating to make a stable nanoporous lithium electrode.