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Kejie Zhao's picture

Fracture of electrodes in lithium-ion batteries caused by fast charging

During charging or discharging of a lithium-ion battery, lithium is extracted from one electrode and inserted into the other.  This extraction-insertion reaction causes the electrodes to deform.  An electrode is often composed of small active particles in a matrix.  If the battery is charged at a rate faster than lithium can homogenize in an active particle by diffusion, the inhomogeneous distribution of lithium results in stresses that may cause the particle to fracture.  The distributions of lithium and stress in a LiCoO2 particle

Zhigang Suo's picture

Lectures on Soft Active Materials, 3rd edition

At the invitation of Yonggang Huang, I’ll give 4-hour lectures at the NSF Summer Institute Course on the Mechanics of Soft Materials.   I attach the slides of the lectures, to be given on Monday, 10 May 2010.  An abstract of the lectures follows.

Yuhang Hu's picture

Using indentation to characterize the poroelasticity of gels

When an indenter is pressed into a gel to a fixed depth, the solvent in the gel migrates, and the force on the indenter relaxes. Within the theory of poroelasticity, the force relaxation curves for indenters of several types are obtained in a simple form, enabling indentation to be used with ease as a method for determining the elastic constants and permeability of the gel. The method is demonstrated with a conical indenter on an alginate hydrogel.

Zhigang Suo's picture

PhD Winterschool on Dielectric Elastomer Transducers

I’ve just come back from a Winter School on Dielectric Elastomer Transducers, held at Monte Verità, Ascona, Switzerland, 10-16 January 2010.  Lectures were given by various people, covering the theory of electromechanical interaction, design of devices, development of materials, and technologies of manufacturing.  I was asked to give three lectures on the theory.  I attach the slides of my lectures.

Zhigang Suo's picture

Dielectric elastomers of interpenetrating networks

Recent experiments have shown that a voltage can induce a large deformation in an elastomer of interpenetrating networks. We describe a model of interpenetrating networks of long and short chains. As the voltage ramps up, the elastomer may undergo a snap-through instability. The network with long chains fills the space and keeps elastomer compliant at small to modest deformation. The network with short chains acts as a safety net that restrains the elastomer from thinning down excessively, averting electrical breakdown.  It appears possible to find a dielectric elastomer capable of giant deformation of actuation.  You can read the paper, or take a look at the slides posted here.

Zhigang Suo's picture

Lectures on Soft Active Materials, 2nd edition

In May 2008, I posted 3 lectures on Soft Active Materials given at UCSB.  I have since given similar lectures on other occasions, but never all three at the same place.  The field has been active.  The lectures have been updated with new items.  I’m now posting the “2nd edition” of these lectures.

  • Dielectric elastomers
  • Neutral gels
  • Polyelectrolyte gels
  • pH-sensitive gels 

The slides are posted as delivered.  No effort is made to eliminate repeating slides. 

Nanshu Lu's picture

The effect of film thickness on the failure strain of polymersupported metal films

We perform uniaxial tensile tests on polyimide-supported copper films with a strong (111) fiber texture and with thicknesses varying from 50 nm to 1 μm. Films with thicknesses below 200 nm fail by intergranular fracture at elongations of only a few percent. Thicker films rupture by ductile transgranular fracture and local debonding from the substrate. The failure strain for transgranular fracture exhibits a maximum for film thicknesses around 500 nm.

Cai Shengqiang's picture

A theory of constrained swelling of a pH-sensitive hydrogel

Many engineering devices and natural phenomena involve gels that swell under the constraint of hard materials. The constraint causes a field of stress in a gel, and often makes the swelling inhomogeneous even when the gel reaches a state of equilibrium. To analyze inhomogeneous swelling of a pH-sensitive gel, we implement a finite element method in the commercial software ABAQUS.  The program is attached here.  Contact Shenqiang Cai ( for a description of the program.

Wei Hong's picture

Formation of creases on the surfaces of elastomers and gels

When a block of an elastomer is bent, the compressed surface may form a crease. This paper analyzes the critical condition for creasing by comparing the elastic energy in a creased body and that in a smooth body. This difference in energy is expressed by a scaling relation. Critical conditions for creasing are determined for elastomers subject to general loads and gels swelling under constraint. The theoretical results are compared with existing experimental observations.

Wei Hong's picture

Large deformation and electrochemistry of polyelectrolyte gels

Immersed in an ionic solution, a network of polyelectrolyte polymers imbibes the solution and swells, resulting in a polyelectrolyte gel. The swelling is reversible, and is regulated by ionic concentrations, mechanical forces, and electric potentials. This paper develops a field theory to couple large deformation and electrochemistry. A specific material model is described, including the effects of stretching the network, mixing the polymers with the solvent and ions, and polarizing the gel.

Jeong-Yun Sun's picture

Inorganic islands on a highly stretchable polyimide substrate

For a flexible electronic device integrating inorganic materials on a polymer substrate, the polymer can deform substantially, but the inorganic materials usually fracture at small strains.  This paper describes an approach to make such a device highly stretchable.  A polyimide substrate is first coated with a thin layer of an elastomer, on top of which SiNx islands are fabricated.  When the substrate is stretched to a large strain, the SiNx islands remain intact.  Calculations confirm that the elastomer reduces the

Yuhang Hu's picture

Averting cracks caused by insertion reaction in lithium-ion batteries

In a lithium-ion battery, both electrodes are atomic frameworks that host mobile lithium ions. When the battery is being charged or discharged, lithium ions diffuse from one electrode to the other. Such an insertion reaction deforms the electrodes, and may cause the electrodes to crack. This paper uses fracture mechanics to determine the critical conditions to avert cracking. The method is applied to cracks induced by the mismatch between phases in crystalline particles of LiFePO4

Nonlinear oscillation of a dielectric elastomer balloon

This paper studies the dynamic behavior of a dielectric elastomer balloon subject to a combination of pressure and voltage.  When the pressure and voltage are static, the balloon may reach a state of equilibrium.  We determine the stability of the state of equilibrium, and calculate the natural frequency of the small-amplitude oscillation around the state of equilibrium.  When the voltage is sinusoidal, the balloon resonates at multiple frequencies of excitation, giving rise to superharmonic, harmonic, and subharmonic responses.  Whe

Adrian S. J. Koh's picture

Maximal energy that can be converted by a Dielectric Elastomer Generator

Mechanical energy can be converted to electrical energy by using a dielectric elastomer generator.  The elastomer is susceptible to various modes of failure, including electrical breakdown, electromechanical instability, loss of tension, and rupture by stretch.  The modes of failure define a cycle of maximal energy that can be converted.  This cycle is represented on planes of work-conjugate coordinates, and may be used to guide the design of practical cycles.

Nanshu Lu's picture

Singular stress fields at corners in flip-chip packages

An electronic device integrates diverse materials, and inevitably contains sharp features, such as interfaces and corners. When the device is subject to thermal and mechanical loads, the corners develop intense stress and are vulnerable sites to initiate failure. This paper analyzes stress fields at corners in flip-chip packages. The stress at a corner is a linear superposition of two modes of singular fields, with one mode being more singular than the other. The amplitudes of the two modes are represented by two stress intensity factors of dissimilar dimensions.

Equilibrium and stability of dielectric elastomer membranes undergoing inhomogeneous deformation

Dielectric elastomers are capable of large deformation subject to an electric voltage, and are promising for uses as actuators, sensors and generators. Because of large deformation, nonlinear equations of state, and diverse modes of failure, modeling the process of electromechanical transduction has been challenging.  This paper studies a membrane of a dielectric elastomer deformed into an out-of-plane, axisymmetric shape, a configuration used in a family of commercial devices known as the Universal Muscle Actuators. 

Hanqing Jiang's picture

A Finite Element Method for Transient Analysis of Concurrent Large Deformation and Mass Transport in Gels

A gel is an aggregate of polymers and solvent molecules.  The polymers crosslink into a three-dimensional network by strong chemical bonds, and enable the gel to retain its shape after a large deformation.  The solvent molecules, however, interact among themselves and with the network by weak physical bonds, and enable the gel to be a conduit of mass transport.  The time-dependent concurrent process of large deformation and mass transport is studied by developing a finite element method. 

On designing dielectric elastomer actuators

Subject to a voltage, a dielectric elastomer can deform substantially, making it a desirable material for actuators. Designing such an actuator, however, has been challenging due to nonlinear equations of state, as well as multiple modes of failure, parameters of design, and measures of performance. This paper explores these issues, using a spring-roll actuator as an example.


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