Anisotropic swelling and fracture of silicon nanowires during lithiation

Xiao Hua Liu, He Zheng, Li Zhong, Shan Huang, Khim Karki, Li Qiang Zhang, Yang Liu, Akihiro Kushima, Wen Tao Liang, Jiang Wei Wang, Jeong Hyun Cho, Eric Epstein, Shadi A. Dayeh, S. Tom Picraux, Ting Zhu, Ju Li, John P. Sullivan, John Cumings, Chunsheng Wang, Scott X. MaoZhi Zhen Ye, Sulin Zhang, Jian Yu Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

680 Scopus citations


We report direct observation of an unexpected anisotropic swelling of Si nanowires during lithiation against either a solid electrolyte with a lithium counter-electrode or a liquid electrolyte with a LiCoO2 counter-electrode. Such anisotropic expansion is attributed to the interfacial processes of accommodating large volumetric strains at the lithiation reaction front that depend sensitively on the crystallographic orientation. This anisotropic swelling results in lithiated Si nanowires with a remarkable dumbbell-shaped cross section, which develops due to plastic flow and an ensuing necking instability that is induced by the tensile hoop stress buildup in the lithiated shell. The plasticity-driven morphological instabilities often lead to fracture in lithiated nanowires, now captured in video. These results provide important insight into the battery degradation mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3312-3318
Number of pages7
JournalNano letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 10 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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