Tin (Sn) anode active particles were electrochemically lithiated during simultaneous imaging in a scanning electron microscope. Relationships among the reaction mechanism, active particle local strain rate, particle size, and microcrack formation are elucidated to demonstrate the importance of strain relaxation due to mechano-electrochemical interaction in Sn-based electrodes under electrochemical cycling. At low rates of operation, due to significant creep relaxation, large Sn active particles, of size 1 μm, exhibit no significant surface crack formation. Microcrack formation within Sn active particles occurs due to two different mechanisms: (i) large concentration gradient induced stress at the two-phase interface, and (ii) high volume expansion induced stress at the surface of the active particles. From the present study, it can be concluded that majority of the microcracks evolve at or near the particle surface due to high volume expansion induced tension. Concentration gradient induced damage prevails near the center of the active particle, though significantly smaller in magnitude. Comparison with experimental results indicates that at operating conditions of C/2, even 500 nm sized Sn active particles remain free from surface crack formation, which emphasizes the importance of creep relaxation. A phase map has been developed to demonstrate the preferred mechano-electrochemical window of operation of Sn-based electrodes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry