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Real time observation of battery charging/discharing at atomic resolution

Huang et al, Science 330, 1515-1520 (2010) (download pdf , or online version);Read a perspective written by Prof. Yet-Ming Chiang, Science 330, 1485 (2010);

Read Nature Materials Editor Dr. Joerg Heber's Blog: How to get rich fast with batteries ;

Watch a Youtube video of a nanowire charging:

 Watch a TV interview here:


We report the creation of a nanoscale electrochemical device inside a transmission electron microscope—consisting of a single tin dioxide (SnO2) nanowire anode, an ionic liquid electrolyte, and a bulk lithium cobalt dioxide (LiCoO2) cathode—and the in situ observation of the lithiation of the SnO2 nanowire during electrochemical charging. Upon charging, a reaction front propagated progressively along the nanowire, causing the nanowire to swell, elongate, and spiral. The reaction front is a “Medusa zone” containing a high density of mobile dislocations, which are continuously nucleated and absorbed at the moving front. This dislocation cloud indicates large in-plane misfit stresses and is a structural precursor to electrochemically driven solid-state amorphization. Because lithiation-induced volume expansion, plasticity, and pulverization of electrode materials are the major mechanical effects that plague the performance and lifetime of high-capacity anodes in lithium-ion batteries, our observations provide important mechanistic insight for the design of advanced batteries.


Kejie Zhao's picture

Jianyu,  brilliant work! This will definitely stimulate wide research on mechanical characteristics of energy storage materials!


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