High damage tolerance of electrochemically lithiated silicon

Xueju Wang, Feifei Fan, Jiangwei Wang, Haoran Wang, Siyu Tao, Avery Yang, Yang Liu, Huck Beng Chew, Scott X. Mao, Ting Zhu, Shuman Xia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mechanical degradation and resultant capacity fade in high-capacity electrode materials critically hinder their use in high-performance rechargeable batteries. Despite tremendous efforts devoted to the study of the electro-chemo-mechanical behaviours of high-capacity electrode materials, their fracture properties and mechanisms remain largely unknown. Here we report a nanomechanical study on the damage tolerance of electrochemically lithiated silicon. Our in situ transmission electron microscopy experiments reveal a striking contrast of brittle fracture in pristine silicon versus ductile tensile deformation in fully lithiated silicon. Quantitative fracture toughness measurements by nanoindentation show a rapid brittle-to-ductile transition of fracture as the lithium-to-silicon molar ratio is increased to above 1.5. Molecular dynamics simulations elucidate the mechanistic underpinnings of the brittle-to-ductile transition governed by atomic bonding and lithiation-induced toughening. Our results reveal the high damage tolerance in amorphous lithium-rich silicon alloys and have important implications for the development of durable rechargeable batteries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8417
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Sep 24 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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