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Variation of Stress with Charging Rate due to Strain-Rate Sensitivity of Silicon Electrodes of Lithium Ion Batteries

Matt Pharr's picture

Silicon is a promising anode material for lithium-ion batteries due to its enormous theoretical energy density. Fracture during electrochemical cycling has limited the practical viability of silicon electrodes, but recent studies indicate that fracture can be prevented by taking advantage of lithiation-induced plasticity. In this paper, we provide experimental insight into the nature of plasticity in amorphous LixSi thin films. To do so, we vary the rate of lithiation of amorphous silicon thin films and simultaneously measure stresses. An increase in the rate of lithiation results in a corresponding increase in the flow stress. These observations indicate that rate-sensitive plasticity occurs in a-LixSi electrodes at room temperature and at charging rates typically used in lithium-ion batteries. Using a simple mechanical model, we extract material parameters from our experiments, finding a good fit to a power law relationship between the plastic strain rate and the stress. These observations provide insight into the unusual ability of a-LixSi to flow plastically, but fracture in a brittle manner. Moreover, the results have direct ramifications concerning the rate-capabilities of silicon electrodes: faster charging rates (i.e., strain rates) result in larger stresses and hence larger driving forces for fracture.

The paper can be found here:  http://www.seas.harvard.edu/suo/papers2/331.pdf

or here:  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378775314012075#

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