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This invention generates surface films on alkali metals, including lithium, to protect from self-plating and corrosion induced by organic electrolytes in rechargeable batteries. The film permits the ionic conductivity needed for cycling and allows lithium to be used as a battery anode in rechargeable batteries. This invention offers the potential to increase the energy densities of current rechargeable batteries by preserving the function of metal electrodes, like lithium, and can be applicable to energy-intensive processes like the grid-scale storage of renewable energy and electric vehicle energy storage.