Bending-induced symmetry breaking of lithiation in germanium nanowires

Meng Gu, Hui Yang, Daniel E. Perea, Ji Guang Zhang, Sulin Zhang, Chong Min Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


From signal transduction of living cells to oxidation and corrosion of metals, mechanical stress intimately couples with chemical reactions, regulating these biological and physiochemical processes. The coupled effect is particularly evident in the electrochemical lithiation/delithiation cycling of high-capacity electrodes, such as silicon (Si), where on the one hand lithiation-generated stress mediates lithiation kinetics and on the other the electrochemical reaction rate regulates stress generation and mechanical failure of the electrodes. Here we report for the first time the evidence on the controlled lithiation in germanium nanowires (GeNWs) through external bending. Contrary to the symmetric core-shell lithiation in free-standing GeNWs, we show bending the GeNWs breaks the lithiation symmetry, speeding up lithaition at the tensile side while slowing down at the compressive side of the GeNWs. The bending-induced symmetry breaking of lithiation in GeNWs is further corroborated by chemomechanical modeling. In the light of the coupled effect between lithiation kinetics and mechanical stress in the electrochemical cycling, our findings shed light on strain/stress engineering of durable high-rate electrodes and energy harvesting through mechanical motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4622-4627
Number of pages6
JournalNano letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 13 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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